Bessemer Group Inc. named Donald J. Herrema to be president and chief executive officer of its New York-based trust companies, succeeding John R. Whitmore, who is retiring at yearend.

Since being named chief operating officer of Bessemer Trust Co. in 1996, Mr. Herrema has been viewed as the heir apparent to Mr. Whitmore, who has been president since 1975.

Mr. Herrema joined Bessemer in 1993 as a senior vice president. Previously, he had spent 13 years at Wells Fargo & Co. in private banking, mutual funds, and retail securities.

He has led an expansion of Bessemer, which added 100 clients last year to reach $16 billion of assets under management. The group also opened a San Francisco office.

"While Don served as chief operating officer in 1997, we have experienced our greatest growth ever," Stuart S. Janney 3d, chairman of its board, said in a prepared statement.

Saluting Mr. Whitmore, Mr. Janney said he "has been at the helm of a company that has grown from a family office into one of the leading companies in wealth management."

Bessemer was founded in 1907 to manage the assets of Henry Phipps, a steel magnate whose descendants still own the company.

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