The incoming chief executive at Sovereign Bancorp Inc. will face challenges getting the nation's largest thrift company back on track, according to analysts who follow the company.

The $79 billion-asset Philadelphia company said Tuesday that Paul Perrault, a former chairman and chief executive of Vermont's Chittenden Corp., would become its president and CEO on Jan. 3, succeeding Joseph P. Campanelli, 52, who the company said had stepped down.

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