Ten months after he was ousted in a management shake-up at Shawmut National Corp., Bharat B. Bhatt has found a new home, at GreenPoint Financial Corp. in New York.
GreenPoint, a thrift with $7 billion of assets, said Thursday that it had hired Mr. Bhatt as vice chairman. He will report directly to chairman and CEO Thomas S. Johnston.
Mr. Bhatt, 52, will oversee all the financial areas of the company, including the controller's department, the treasury function, and investor relations.
Mr. Bhatt will also develop a risk management function at GreenPoint.
However, the chief financial officer title will remain with executive vice president Charles P. Richardson.
GreenPoint has grown rapidly through acquisitions this year. The investment portfolio will be an immediate concern, since GreenPoint will pick up $8.3 billion of deposits, $6 billion of that in cash, with the pending purchase of 60 Home Savings of America branches.
"Investing $6 billion in a way that will prove to be profitable for the company is not an easy task," said analyst Kevin Timmons of First Albany Corp.
Mr. Bhatt "has got to invest it in a way that's profitable in the near term and yet is flexible enough so that as GreenPoint builds its mortgage lending business, or wants to make other acquisitions, the funds will be available."
Mr. Johnson, in a published statement, said GreenPoint was "delighted" to have Mr. Bhatt aboard. "As we continue to execute the two prongs of our strategic plan that calls for building a national niche mortgage lending business and a local consumer banking business, it will be critical to manage the financial planning and treasury functions that bridge the two lines of business," the GreenPoint CEO said.
Mr. Bhatt had been Shawmut's chief financial officer from 1992 until last September, when he and two other top executives were forced out. Shawmut attributed the shake-up to "our ongoing effort to reduce corporate hierarchy."
But other observers said Mr. Bhatt had run into trouble with chairman and chief executive Joel Alvord by suggesting the bank should be sold. Mr. Bhatt could not be reached for comment last week.
Mr. Bhatt, said Mr. Timmons "looked at the situation at Shawmut and felt that their ability to execute their game plan long term in terms of building their own franchise through acquisition was going to be a tough one. He felt the best thing to do was sell it."
"At GreenPoint he probably sees the ability to grow the thing internally."
Before joining Shawmut, Mr. Bhatt served as senior vice president at Mellon Bank. He was responsible there for portfolio management and administration of the credit policy committee. From 1971 to 1989, he held a variety of financial and risk management positions with Chemical Bank.
When the pending acquisition of the New York branches of Home Savings is completed, GreenPoint Bank will be the largest thrift deposit franchise in New York, with $13.5 billion in deposits and 84 branches throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland counties.