The man who built one of Florida's largest remaining banks is stepping aside.

John W. Sapanski will retire at the end of this month as chairman and chief executive officer of Republic Bancshares in St. Petersburg. Mr. Sapanski, 68, will be succeeded by Alfred T. May, now president and chief operating officer.

Mr. Sapanski and a partner, William R. Hough, bought Republic Bank in 1993. At the time, the $170 million-asset institution had seven branches. Republic is now the second-largest Florida-based commercial bank, with 71 branches and $2.5 billion of assets.

But lately the company has had troubles. In January it announced a restructuring that included closing its troubled mortgage banking unit and eliminating 340 jobs.

"I am proud of the extraordinary accomplishments and efforts of the bank's staff during the past six years," Mr. Sapanski, but "as Republic examines its strategic alternatives, it is appropriate that a new leadership guide the company's future direction."

Mr. Sapanski has a two-year agreement to serve as chairman of Republic's strategic planning committee and will stand for reelection to the company's board at its upcoming annual meeting.

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