PNC Bank Corp. has promoted Walter E. Gregg Jr., a 25-year veteran of the Pittsburgh company, to vice chairman.
He remains its third-ranking officer.
Mr. Gregg, 57, has been senior executive vice president for finance and administration since 1997. He oversees financial, strategic, and legal functions at the $74.9 billion-asset company as well as investment management and securities processing.
Observers said Mr. Gregg was being rewarded for his management of those businesses, which have grown substantially.
In 1998, BlackRock, the bank's New York-based investment management firm, and PFPC Worldwide, its Delaware-based securities processing unit, had the greatest gains in revenue of any of PNC's seven main business operations. BlackRock revenues surged 73.5% last year; PFPC revenues jumped 29.1%.
Mr. Gregg's promotion "reflects the value of the business lines he oversees," said Michael Mayo, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston.
PNC executives acknowledged recently that they would consider a partial spinoff of BlackRock and PFPC.
A PNC spokesman said the company structures all of its businesses to be stand-alone operations. Any one of them could become independent at any time, he said.
PNC would spin off a business to realize some of the value in it, said Michael Plodwick, an analyst at Lehman Brothers.
Mr. Gregg has spent most of his career at PNC, starting as a staff attorney in 1974. He is currently a member of the three-person office of the chairman, which also includes James E. Rohr, 50, president and chief operating officer, and Thomas H. O'Brien, 62, chairman and chief executive officer.
Analysts said they would consider Mr. Gregg to be high on the short list of likely successors to Mr. O'Brien.
"The title of vice chairman recognizes the key role Walter serves in our organization," Mr. O'Brien said in a statement.
Mr. Gregg has a high profile on Wall Street as PNC's top financial officer, and analysts said he is well regarded. "He can be tough, but he is also frank and informative," Mr. Mayo said.