Joel Alvord, chief executive of Shawmut National Corp., sold about half of his holdings in the company on April 30, just two weeks after Shawmut completed a large stock offering.

Mr. Alvord sold 77,805 shares for prices ranging from $15,375 to $16, according to documents filed with Securities and Exchange Commission. The proceeds were between $1.20 million and $1.24 million.

James Dorsey, a Shawmut spokesman, said the sales were made to diversify Mr. Alvord's investment portfolio.

Timing Criticized

Word of the sales drew criticism from some quarters. "The timing was not good," said Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at Tucker Anthony Inc. "If you're telling investors to buy our stock and then you go out and sell it two weeks later ... it makes people wonder if you believe your own story."

Shawmut completed a public offering of 17.25 million common shares on April 14. The issue, at $12 a share, brought in $207 million.

The offering was an important step toward the financial recovery of the Hartford-based company, whose capital ratios had been eroded by loan losses.

Investors had to be persuaded that the company indeed was on the mend. Some investors said that Mr. Alvord's personal commitment to Shawmut's turnaround played a role in their decision to buy the stock.

Mr. Dorsey, the Shawmut spokesman, pointed out that Mr. Alvord has had few opportunities to sell his holdings in the last year, because of Shawmut's unsuccessful merger talks with Bank of Boston Corp., earnings announcements, and the stock offering.

He emphasized that Mr. Alvord remains one of the largest shareholders on the company's board, with 87,869 shares.

Mr. Alvord also holds stock options for 126,578 shares exercisable at an undisclosed price above $13.25 a share and another 25,000 options exercisable at undisclosed prices.

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