Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. could appoint a new chief executive officer by the end of next week, according to Gregory T. Barmore, the company's acting president.

Mr. Barmore would not identify the candidates, but sources said the field includes at least two finalists.

One of them, Stuart McFarland, worked with Mr. Barmore at GE Capital Mortgage Services and is now the chairman of Default Management Network. Another, Joe Bryant, is the chief mortgage officer of Home Federal Savings Bank, a subsidiary of New York Bancorp, which is being acquired by North Fork Bancorp.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, which tracks ownership of servicing rights, will be interviewing candidates early in the week, said Mr. Barmore, who has been acting as president since the beginning of this month.

Paul Mullings, who had been president and chief executive officer since February 1996, announced in November that he was leaving for a job with Chase Manhattan Mortgage. He joined the Chase Manhattan Corp. unit last week. Mr. Barmore, formerly the chairman of GE Capital Mortgage Services, joined the company in the summer as a consultant after retiring from GE. He said he is not interested in taking the top job on a permanent basis, and has helped the company's board search for a successor to Mr. Mullings.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems runs an electronic system known as Mers. More than 150 mortgage companies have signed up for membership, and several large lenders are going on-line with Mers. The system is one of only a few instances of industrywide cooperation.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems is owned by a consortium of lenders, insurers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other mortgage-related companies. Electronic Data Systems designed the technology behind Mers and maintains the system.

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