Dean S. Read, the chief executive officer of Bar Harbor Bankshares Inc., knows banking but concedes that he has had trouble managing its other business lines, which include capital management, insurance, investment advisory, and brokerage.

That is why the Maine company decided to split his job.

Mr. Read will remain the top executive of its $451 million-asset Bar Harbor Banking and Trust Co., but last week the holding company announced that it was searching for a new CEO for itself. The move is largely meant to spur the growth of BTI Financial Group, a subsidiary that oversees the nonbanking lines.

"I know more about the banking business than I do about the investment or brokerage business," said Mr. Read, who joined the company in January 2000. "I'm not as qualified as someone else may be to give BTI the support it needs."

As scores of other community banking companies have done since the 1999 passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Bar Harbor Bankshares decided to move into other areas of financial services. Now, said chairman John P. Reeves, the company wants "to add depth" to its management team.

"In the old days there wasn't much activity at the holding company level, so it was possible for one person to oversee both the bank and the holding company effectively," Mr. Reeves said.

The new CEO will provide overall guidance and supervision to BTI and will direct the corporate growth strategy, he said.

No timetable has been set for the hire, Mr. Reeves said, nor will it affect Paul G. Ahearn, BTI's CEO, who will remain in charge of its day-to-day operations.

Bar Harbor created BTI in August 1999 to manage its trust department as well as provide other financial services that the bank had never offered. BTI has grown but still loses money, the company said.

Mr. Read said stepping down as the holding company's CEO would also allow him to devote more attention to the bank at a critical time. Its earnings have been flat for several years, and it has not opened a new branch in nearly a decade, he said.

"We've got a lot of work to do to bring [its performance] back up the to the level our shareholders deserve," Mr. Read said.

The bank needs to improve internal systems first, he said, but he would also like to start expanding its branch network this year or early next year.

Bar Harbor reported first-half earnings of $1.47 million, down 35% from a year earlier. Full-year 2000 net totaled $4.8 million, down 23%. Earnings peaked in 1996, at $6.7 million.

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