William H. Linginfelter, previously an executive vice president responsible for retail, was named president and chief operating officer of SouthTrust Corp.'s Georgia bank.

Mr. Linginfelter, 40, succeeds Richard G. Hickson, who resigned from the company three weeks ago to become president and chief executive officer of $5.2 billion-asset Trustmark Corp. of Jackson, Miss.

Mr. Linginfelter will report to Thomas H. Coley, chairman and chief executive officer of the $5.5 billion-asset Georgia bank.

"Bill has guided our rapid branch expansion into growing markets, which has been a major factor in our success in the Atlanta market," Mr. Coley said.

Industry observers expressed some surprise at the announcement. Because Birmingham, Ala.-based SouthTrust is planning to consolidate its Georgia bank charter with SouthTrust banks in six other states in June, an overall management restructuring is expected soon. Already Mr. Coley's role has been expanded to involve corporatewide retail responsibilities.

"It's kind of perplexing," said Darren R. Short, an analyst at Robinson- Humphrey Co.

"There would seem to be no point in naming a successor, but maybe they're going to keep management positions intact for a while to smooth the transition."

Mr. Linginfelter could not be reached for comment. But Mr. Coley said SouthTrust would leave top managers in place to oversee market operations despite the consolidation move.

In addition to his oversight of retail, Mr. Linginfelter also directed all consumer lending, marketing, sales management, compliance, and community affairs programs at SouthTrust Bank of Georgia.

He has been with the company six years.

Before joining SouthTrust, Mr. Linginfelter had spent 13 years at BankSouth.

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