The head of SunTrust Banks' institutional investment sales division abruptly resigned last month to join a rival securities firm.

John E. Foster, a former managing director of for the Atlanta-based banking company's SunTrust Capital Markets unit, left the company Jan. 19 to become a vice president of Knox Wall & Co., a local investment boutique.

The move follows several high-ranking departures at SunTrust's asset management subsidiary last year.

Mitchell Grant, senior managing director of SunTrust Capital, said that the departure will not adversely affect the unit's business. He added that a replacement for Mr. Foster has not been found.

SunTrust Capital booked revenue in excess of $14 million for its institutional securities sales last year, up 20% from 1994, Mr. Grant said.

Mr. Foster, who joined SunTrust in 1971 and became a managing director there in 1994, said he left the company to be more closely involved in sales.

"This is more of an entrepreneurial opportunity for me. I had been a manager for too long," he said.

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