Aiming to fill a void expected by the disappearance of CoreStates Financial Corp., a group of business leaders is organizing a new community bank in suburban Philadelphia.

David E. Sparks, the former chief financial officer of Meridian Bancorp, Reading, Pa., is heading the group planning to open Millennium Bank in affluent Chester County. Other organizers include the state's economic development secretary and the former chairman of the state's largest bank.

"With the tremendous streamlining and consolidation going on in the industry, we think there is a hole in the market that is ripe for a new local bank," Mr. Sparks said.

Mr. Sparks said the group has submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and hopes to raise at least $6 million. The bank, not expected to open until at least late 1998, will focus chiefly on private banking and small-business lending.

"There is a customer group here that will go out of their way for a simple corporate structure and high level of service," he said. "We intend to be the bank for that customer."

Mr. Sparks left Meridian when the bank merged with CoreStates in 1996. He then became CFO at Dime Savings Bank of New York, but resigned from that post in March 1997.

He said he was considering whether to organize a new bank when CoreStates announced last November that it would be acquired by First Union Corp. That decided him, he said.

Mr. Sparks has enlisted some industry heavyweights in organizing Millennium Bank. Among them is Roger S. Hillas, one-time chief executive of Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based Provident National Bank and later chairman of PNC Bank Corp., Pittsburgh.

The bank's board could include Samuel A. McCullough, the state's secretary of community and economic development. Mr. McCullough, the former chairman of Meridian, is seeking permission from the state ethics commission to invest in the bank and serve on the board, while retaining his government post.

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