Shawmut National Corp. said Thursday it appointed veteran insider George Russell Jr. to run recently acquired New Dartmouth Bank of Manchester, N.H.

Mr. Russell, who has spent 24 years at Shawmut, will be president and chief executive officer of the newly renamed Shawmut Bank NH. He was formerly senior vice president and head of private banking.

Mr. Russell will take charge of New Dartmouth's 630 employees and 37 branches. The bank has $1.8 billion in assets.

Mr. Russell said that under his direction the bank will expand into investment and international trade products. It will also offer asset-based lending and project financing, and do more work for town and state governments.

Built from Failed S&Ls

Mr. Russell will replace Robert Keller, who, with the help of investors, built New Dartmouth from scratch in 1991 by acquiring three failed New Hampshire banks.

Mr. Keller, 56, said that he "totally expected" Shawmut to replace him with one of its own. Mr. Russell said Shawmut would honor a contractual agreement Mr. Keller has with New Dartmouth. According to New Dartmouth's proxy statement, Mr. Keller would receive in excess of $1.2 million in severance pay in the case of a merger.

Mr. Russell said he is continuing to study whether the bank will lay off any employees. He said any decision about job cuts and branch closings had been put off because of the delay in getting approval for the merger from the Federal Reserve Board.

Deal Rejected at First

In November, the Federal Reserve rejected Shawmut's application to acquire New Dartmouth, citing problems with Shawmut's mortgage lending to low income borrowers.

Shawmut requested that the Fed reconsider its application for the New Dartmouth merger and received approval for it in April, after submitting more recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data.

In other news, Shawmut received approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to acquire Gateway Bank, the principal subsidiary of Norwalk, Conn.-based Gateway Financial Corp.

Approvals Pending

The $152 million-asset stock deal still needs to be approved by the Federal Reserve Board and the Connecticut Commissioner of Banking. Gateway stockholders are scheduled to vote on the transaction June 8.

Shawmut targeted Gateway because of its location in Fairfield County. The acquisition would increase Shawmut's market share in Fairfield from fourth place with 7.5%, to second place with 16%. Brideport, Conn.-based People's Bank is first in the country with 22%, Mr. Guenther said.

If the acquisition receives final shareholder and regulatory approval, Shawmut will capture $1.3 billion in assets and $1.1 billion in deposits.

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