Kendrick R. Wilson 3d, head of Lazard Freres & Co.'s financial institutions group, is leaving the firm to join Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Mr. Wilson's title at Goldman could not be learned. But a source at the firm said he would be working with J. Christopher Flowers, head of Goldman's financial institutions group.

A Lazard vice chairman, Mr. Wilson last year was passed over for the job of deputy chief executive after Felix Rohatyn left the firm to serve as U.S. ambassador to France. The title was given to Steven Rattner, Lazard's high-profile dealmaker for the media industry.

In November, Mr. Wilson ceded the title of head of Lazard's investment banking unit to Gerald Rosenfeld.

A successor for Mr. Wilson has not been named, a source at Lazard said, adding that his departure was "very sudden."

"Ken has been an important and respected partner," said Lazard chairman Michel David-Weill in a statement. "We wish him all success and thank him for his many contributions to this firm."

Though Lazard Freres is one the world's most prestigious advisory firms, it worked on few bank mergers in 1997. The firm advised on $400 million worth of bank mergers last year, ranking 31st among investment banks, according to Sheshunoff Information Services. That is down from $1.08 billion in 1996, when it ranked 14th.

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