John E. Steuri, chairman and chief executive officer of Alltel Information Services and one of the luminaries of the bank data processing business, said he plans to retire on May 31.

Mr. Steuri, 56, has been CEO of the organization formerly known as Systematics since 1988. He led it through its acquisition by the Alltel telecommunications company and spearheaded a diversification beyond basic outsourcing services to banks.

Officials of Alltel Corp., which like the banking services unit is based in Little Rock, said they will be conducting a search for a new CEO.

"Under John's leadership, our information subsidiary has experienced significant growth," said Joe Ford, Alltel Corp.'s chairman and chief executive officer. "We appreciate his many contributions to our company and wish him well in his retirement."

Mr. Steuri became chairman and CEO of Systematics after a 24-year career at International Business Machines Corp. He said he had been contemplating early retirement for a number of years.

"I've always had a personal goal of being able to retire at 55, and I'm going to miss that by a couple of years," Mr. Steuri said this week. "When we merged with Alltel in 1990, I committed to Joe Ford that I would stay on for at least five years, so I'm already one year beyond that."

He added that his decision was eased by the fact that he believes he is leaving Alltel Information Services in good shape financially and managerially. "We were pleased with our third-quarter (1995) results," he said, "and I don't think we will be disappointed with our fourth-quarter numbers" that should be released this month.

In the third quarter, Alltel Information had an operating profit of $34.5 million on revenues of $229 million. The unit is expected to top $900 million in revenues for all of 1995.

Under Mr. Steuri, Alltel Information moved from providing data processing services mainly to midsize and small banks to offering a range of technology services to some of the biggest financial institutions, including Chemical Banking Corp. and NationsBank Corp.

Alltel Information also built a sizable international business and expanded into providing application software and outsourcing services to the fast-growing telecommunications and health care markets.

"We've made some tremendous strides in the last couple of years, in spite of the difficult times we've had in the banking industry with mergers and consolidations," Mr. Steuri said.

The declining number of banks due to mergers and acquisitions was cited as a primary reason why Alltel took a $32 million restructuring charge in the fourth quarter of 1994. Last August, Alltel sold off its check processing services business to competitor Fiserv Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

"I'm surprised that he's retiring now, but I'm not shocked," said one bank software company chief executive, whose company has worked with Alltel in the past. Since a reorganization last year that left ex-banker William L. Cravens as chief operating officer, "John has had less involvement in the day-to-day operation of the business."

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