PNC Bank Corp. is gearing up to go after middle-market commercial clients and private banking customers in the hotly competitive New Jersey market.

The $73.3 billion-asset Pittsburgh-based bank recently named a longtime Garden State banker to lead the charge. William H. Turner will join PNC Aug. 1 as president and chief executive officer of its New Jersey operations - a big part of which he ran for the old Chemnical Banking Corp. until 1995, when PNC bought them.

He'll report to James E. Rohr, president of PNC Bank. Mr. Turner, 57, is charged with strengthening PNC's corporate and private banking businesses and with forging relationships with state and local governments and community organizations.

"There is still a lot of potential on the commercial side," said Mr. Turner

"And there is going to be significant growth in private banking," he added.

PNC already has considerable weight in New Jersey, with 297 branches and a 7.54% share of the state's bank deposits, according to Sheshunoff Information Services.

But since entering the Garden State in 1995 through the acquisition of 85 Chemical branches and of Midlantic Corp., PNC has faced increasingly stiff competition.

Summit Bancorp, based in Princeton, has 336 branches and the biggest share of New Jersey deposits, at 14.17%. First Union Corp., the Charlotte, N.C., company that acquired First Fidelity Corp. of Lawrenceville, N.J., last year, commands the second- largest market share - with 321 branches and 9.64% of deposits.

Fleet Financial Group, Boston, has 174 branches and a 6.87% share, a close fourth behind PNC, according to Sheshunoff.

"Each bank has strengths in different market segments," said Mr. Turner. "There is no one target competitor."

He said PNC's strengths in the state are in middle-market corporate banking - a legacy of both Midlantic and Chemical - and in consumer banking from the old Midlantic.

Though Mr. Turner's executive responsibilities will be statewide, Richard L. Smoot will continue to oversee the three counties closest to Philadelphia as chief executive officer of PNC Bank Philadelphia.

Analysts said PNC would be vying for the same types of business as its similarly sized rivals.

"PNC is going after the same middle market as First Union," said Elizabeth Summers, an analyst at Ryan Beck & Co. in Jersey City. "It makes sense that they would hire someone who has a long history in the state and strong ties to that market segment."

A native of New Jersey, Mr. Turner ironically will be occupying the very same office he had from 1990 to 1995, when he headed Chemical's New Jersey operations.

Mr. Turner spent 34 years with Chemical, rising to vice chairman responsible for private banking, middle-market banking, and the Geoserve operating services unit.

He resigned last year. "I decided I wanted to try something different," he said of his departure. "I didn't think I'd ever go back (to banking) but this was such a unique opportunity."

Since last October, Mr. Turner had been president and co-chief executive officer of Franklin Electronic Publishers Inc., a Burlington, N.J., maker of hand-held electronic reference devices. He will continue to serve on Franklin's board.

Mr. Turner succeeds Garry J. Scheuring, a vice chairman of PNC and its highest-ranking New Jersey executive until his retirement in February. Mr. Scheuring joined PNC in 1996 with the completed integration of Midlantic's operations.

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