Richard Lyons, chief operating officer for the Most network, is leaving his post to become senior vice president of electronic banking at Comerica Inc.

The move is not related to Most's pending merger with Honor, the Maitland, Fla.-based regional automated teller machine network, Mr. Lyons said, but it could affect the future of the merged entity.

Mr. Lyons, 42, has been at Internet Inc., owner of Reston, Va.-based Most, for the past nine years. Industry experts regarded him as the next generation of leadership for the network, now run by Thomas Bennion, president of Honor, and David O'Connor, president of Most. Mr. Bennion will be president and chief executive of the newly formed company. Mr. O'Connor will become vice chairman.

"Rick Lyons is a pretty capable guy," said Liam Carmody, partner at Carmody & Bloom, a Ridgewood, N.J.-based consulting firm. "The probability of his taking over the network at some point was very high." Still, he said there is "management talent at Honor."

Mr. Bennion, 57, said there are at least two employees on his team regarded as possible successors, but he added that he would remain at the helm of the company indefinately. "By the time I hang it up here, who knows what the organization will look like," he said.

The merged network, with nearly 20,000 ATMs, will be the third largest in the country, behind San Diego-based Star System Inc. and Wilmington, Del.-based Electronic Payment Services Inc.

Comerica offered Mr. Lyons the newly created position in May. "It's a great opportunity," said Mr. Lyons, who moves north to Detroit in October to begin his job.

Mr. Lyons shared his decision with staff members last Friday. He said the move came as "a surprise. When you're someplace forever, they think you'll never leave." But he said he's "pretty excited" about his future job.

Positions in electronic banking have become "high-level, high-paying jobs," said Mr. Carmody.

Comerica is one of 15 banks that announced a home banking network with International Business Machines Corp. Mr. Lyons will be responsible for developing and managing all electronic banking products, from debit cards to home banking, said a Comerica spokeswoman.

Comerica has tapped ATM networks for executives before. John R. Beran, chief information officer at Comerica, came to the bank from Electronic Payment Services Inc., owner of the MAC network.

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