Keycorp chairman and chief executive Victor Riley said Thursday he would turn over the CEO's title to president Robert Gillespie on Sept. 1 - three months ahead of schedule.
Analysts said the move would quiet investors' concerns about who was really running the company.
Mr. Riley, 63, originally planned to give up the chief executive's role on Dec. 31.
"This eliminates any fears about Victor hanging on," said McDonald & Co. analyst Fred Cummings.
Morgan Stanley's Dennis Shea agreed. "There is concern in the market about two people running the company," he said. "This puts a clear succession in place."
Mr. Shea added that the March 1994 merger of Albany, N.Y.-based Keycorp with Cleveland-based Society Corp. has hit "some bumps so far. The sharp rise in interest rates set them back in terms of revenues," he said.
"They have to try to find a way to reinvigorate revenue growth, control expenses, and get the bottom line moving. It's easier if you've got one voice at the top directing things."
At a Keycorp board meeting also held on Thursday, it was expected that the chief operating officer's title would be given to a longtime company insider. The name of the promoted executive was not available at press time.
Mr. Gillespie, 50, has been chief operating officer as well as president since the merger last year.
A company spokesman said Mr. Riley will remain chairman of Keycorp's board and its executive committee until Dec. 31, 1998.