Kicking off what its executives say will be a hiring spree in its private bank, Bankers Trust New York Corp. last week named a new head of its Florida operation.

J. Patterson Cooper will take over as president of Bankers Trust Florida on Sept. 9. The former chief executive of Chemical Bank of Florida, Mr. Cooper will head Bankers Trust's private banking business in the Southeast, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, from an office in Palm Beach.

He will report to Peter Scaturro, managing director in charge of marketing for Bankers Trust's private banking division. Mr. Scaturro said Bankers Trust is gearing up to make other high-level hires for its private bank, particularly in New York and Greenwich, Conn.

"You'll see a lot of new people coming into Bankers Trust from key institutions," he said.

That's good news for Bankers Trust's private bankers, who have witnessed several high-level departures in recent months.

Mary Lehman, a high-profile managing director who worked with clients in New York, left in June to work for a family office in Florida. Thomas Sullivan, a vice president of personal trust and estate services, resigned in March to join Neuberger & Berman Management, a New York investment firm. And Mr. Cooper's predecessor in Palm Beach, John Flasco, resigned in May, after leading a two-year expansion in Florida.

Mr. Scaturro said the resignations do not signal any problems at the private bank, which manages more than $200 billion of assets for institutions and wealthy individuals.

"The private bank today at Bankers Trust has a larger client base, a more consistent revenue stream, and a profit-and-loss (sheet) that is superior to any we've had in many, many years," Mr. Scaturro said.

And he expressed excitement over the bank's ability to snare Mr. Cooper for its Florida office.

"Pat Cooper is a fabulous resource for us to have attracted," Mr. Scaturro said. "He built a significant franchise for Chemical."

Mr. Cooper's responsibilities there will be assumed by Michael J. Holden, president of Chase Manhattan Private Bank (Florida).

As for replacing Ms. Lehman, a Bankers Trust spokesman said a search is under way. Some of her marketing duties have been picked up by vice president Alessandra Di Giusto, and her client contacts have been assumed by Mr. Scaturro.

In addition, Ms. Lehman is serving on Bankers Trust's international advisory board, which cultivates new private clients.

Bankers Trust's private bank employs about 750 people, most of whom are professional staff, and its leading domestic markets are New York and Florida. It focuses on individuals with at least $5 million to invest.

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