president to vice chairman of Bank One Corp., will retire by Dec. 31, the company said Friday.
Mr. Lehmann, 55, is the second vice chairman to announce his retirement this year. David Vitale, 53, said in July that he would leave the $256 billion-asset company next month.
"This is additional fallout from management's focus on First USA and the Internet, and putting less emphasis on traditional banking," said Michael Ancell, an analyst at Edward Jones of St. Louis.
In recent quarters, the company has been pinning its growth on its Internet strategy, spearheaded by its on-line bank WingspanBank.com.
"If you're responsible for other business lines (than retail and credit cards) and had aspirations," it might be time to move on, Mr. Ancell said.
Mr. Lehmann was named vice chairman last year after the merger of the old Banc One Corp. and First Chicago NBD Corp. But his responsibilities changed when Mr. Vitale announced his retirement.
At that time, Mr. Lehmann was forced to give up consumer businesses, including retail banking, consumer lending, and credit cards, and take on commercial lending and investment management.
In an interview last week, Mr. Lehmann said he has no interest in succeeding Bank One chairman and chief executive officer John McCoy, who is 56. Mr. Lehmann said he decided to leave for personal reasons.
He said he had an informal understanding to stay on for five years when he became president of the former Banc One in 1995. The company would not comment about who would take on Mr. Lehmann's responsibilities after his departure.
Mr. Lehmann will keep his seat on Bank One's board until yearend, and he said he expects to have some say in who will succeed him.
However, it is unclear whether the company will continue to have a structure that includes several vice chairmen. "It's an unsettling sign for investors," said Thomas McCandless, CIBC World Markets analyst. "We've no idea who is leading the charge."
Analysts have predicted that Richard Vague, 43, the chairman of First USA and WingspanBank.com, is likely to succeed Mr. McCoy.
Meanwhile, Bank One is under pressure to deliver on earnings expectations. In late August it announced that its full-year earnings would miss analysts' expectations by 7% to 8% because of lower profits at its credit card division, which has suffered from competition and attrition problems.
Mr. Lehmann joined the old Banc One in 1993 when it bought Phoenix-based Valley National Corp., where he had been president.
"He's been one of the more credible executives at the bank," Mr. McCandless said. "He's always been the one to quarterback cost control."
Mr. Lehmann said he plans to return full-time to Phoenix, where he and his wife have owned a house for 12 years. "My wife never really left Phoenix," he said. "I've been commuting on and off for the last five years."
The executive said he is considering working for a nonprofit or academic institution. "I doubt I'll stay in banking," where he spent the last 31 years, he said.