Medlin Heads Roster, McCoy Ranks Second

What chief executive is most highly thought of by his peers?

The honor goes to John G. Medlin Jr., CEO of First Wachovia Corp., who was cited 36 times by the executives responding to the American Banker/Heidrick and Struggles survey.

John B. McCoy, chairman of Banc One, was runner-up, with 25 mentions, and Richard M. Rosenberg, chairman of BankAmerica, placed third with 16 votes, closely followed by Carl E. Reichardt of Wells Fargo, with 14.

For the most part, these are executives who in the 1980s stuck to their knitting: basic banking with tight controls. They are unlike money-center executives, "who were previously seen as courageous risk-takers and internationally minded businessmen, but who got distracted from the fundamentals," said Emanuel N. Monogenis, who heads the New York-based financial institutions arm of Heidrick and Struggles Inc.

Also, with most of the survey respondents saying they are from regional banks (98.6%), Mr. Monogenis surmised that they must be finding satisfaction in saying, "The champions are among us. Our own people are succeeding."

The highest scorer among the money-center executives was Dennis Weatherstone, chief of J.P. Morgan, with nine votes. John S. Reed of Citicorp and Charles S. Sanford Jr. of Bankers Trust each garnered only two votes.

Who are the chief executives from outside the industry who have the right stuff to lead banks? Jack Welch of General Electric Co. got six votes and James Robinson of American Express Co. received five. A few mentions went also to Louis V. Gerstner Jr. of RJR Nabisco, Ross Perot of Perot Systems, Sanford Weil of Primerica, and Lee Iacocca of Chrysler.

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