NationsBanc Mortgage, which has been shopping for mortgage banks lately, has brought home instead an impressive new president.

The Dallas-based unit of NationsBank Corp. has hired Andrew D. Woodward Jr. from Fleet Mortgage Group to lead it into a new era of growth.

Earlier this spring, Nationsbank emerged as a bidder for the Margaretten Financial Corp., the big New Jersey-based mortgage banking. Though Chemical Banking Corp. ultimately won Margaretten, Nationsbank clearly remains hungry to expand.

"It was a thrill to grow Fleet Mortgage and I'm looking forward to doing that at another place," said Mr. Woodward, who was chairman of Fleet Mortgage for the past six years.

He said NationsBanc Mortgage will "look at acquisitions to the extent that opportunities arise."

The company will pay special attention, he said, to opportunities outside of its main markets of the Southeast and Southwest.

Mr. Woodward is replacing Eugene H. Phipps as head of NationsBanc Mortgage, the company announced earlier this week.

Mr. Phipps will move over to head NationsBank's specialty-consumer-products unit. Named to the mortgage post two years ago, Mr. Phipps is an old NationsBank hand who had been viewed by some as caretaker for the mortgage unit rather than as an engine of growth.

Mr. Woodward, 47, is a long-time mortgage banker who is widely respected in the industry. Under his leadership, Fleet Mortgage's originations increased to $22.9 billion last year from $5.4 billion in 1988, according to the industry newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance.

NationsBanc Mortgage, though smaller than Fleet, is already a major player. It originates about $11 billion of loans a year and handles a servicing portfolio of more than $30 billion.

Like a number of other big commercial banks, Nations-Bank has zeroed in on mortgage banking as a growth business.

Chemical and BankAmerica Corp. have both made news in recent months by buying mortgage banks will give them originations capability outside their usual strongholds.

Michael R. Zucchini, vice chairman of Fleet Financial Group, will serve as interim chairman and chief executive at Fleet Mortgage. A search is under way for a permanent replacement.

Mr. Woodward's exit is the latest in a series of changes in the executive suite at Fleet Mortgage. In May, Richard Duncan, the executive in charge of production at Fleet, resigned. He soon signed on with Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group, another South Carolina-based lender.

And in April, Fleet Financial imported a Fleet Bank veteran, Rexford West, to head Fleet Mortgage's servicing operation, a move that allowed Michael Torke to move over to a job in strategic development.

Mr. Woodward made $530,000 in salary and bonus last year, making him one of the lowest-paid heads of a publicly traded mortgage bank. He declined to say if his compensation package would be larger at NationsBank.

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