Talk about hitting the ground running. William B. Harrison Jr. wasted no time putting his own particular stamp on Chase Manhattan Corp. Mr. Harrison, 56, became chief executive officer June 1 and almost immediately launched an Internet-only subsidiary, Chase.com.
That unit may ultimately be spun off. He also accelerated internal initiatives to build or improve upon the $371 billion-asset company's asset management, global investor services, and equity underwriting capabilities.
In September, Mr. Harrison surprised many by announcing that Chase would buy San Francisco-based investment bank Hambrecht & Quist Group for $1.35 billion. It was not the transformational megamerger observers expected. But Mr. Harrison and his team of executives portrayed the deal as a build-up of Chase's services for the high-growth Silicon Valley sector.
Observers still believe the big bang -- a Chase merger with a huge investment firm like Merrill Lynch & Co. or Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. -- is possible. But Mr. Harrison, who also took over as chairman Jan. 1, with the retirement of Walter V. Shipley, shows every indication he wants the new generation at Chase to be in charge for a while.