Zvi H. Muscal, president and chief executive of Execufirst Bancorp, and Rolf A. Stensrud, president of Republic Bancorp., have agreed to serve as co-chief executive officers of a new institution which will be formed when their two Philadelphia banks merge. Mr. Muscal will take the title of chairman, while Mr. Stensrud will become president, but the two will share the CEO duties. Mr. Muscal said he would probably handle lending and business development, while Mr. Stensrud would oversee day-to-day operations. Although such a split is highly unusual, Mr. Stensrud downplayed it. "We're friends, we've known each other for a long time, and we'll just work together," Mr. Stensrud said. The two men have known each other since 1988, when they opened their respective banks within two months and three blocks of each other.
*** How does the feverish thrift consolidation going on in the Southeast affect the 60 employees of a beer and soft-drink distributor in Augusta, Ga.? The employees of Dixie Riverside Inc. have a boss who has made a killing with a profit-sharing plan for his company: He invests his employees' money in likely thrift takeout targets. This year the fund has fattened to $1.2 million, about a 54% increase from last year - well above the average return for profit-sharing plans. "We do it all ourselves," said Mr. Perry, who established the fund 10 years ago with $32,000 of the company's profits. "We've looked at hiring outside help, but we're real happy with the way we've been doing it." They should be. Five of the thrifts he has invested in have sold, most recently Bankers First Corp., also of Augusta. Mr. Perry estimated he made roughly a $22-a-share gain on that investment, which translates into $440,000 in profits for his employees. Though Mr. Perry invests in other industries as well, the bulk of his investments are in about 15 institutions, mostly thrifts. Analysts said such a narrow strategy is risky and not nearly as diversified as it should be. But Mr. Perry feels he can't lose with the thrift consolidation occurring in his backyard. He hasn't sold his Bankers First stock, which was exchanged for SouthTrust Corp. stock in their merger agreement last month. He's waiting for the double dip.
*** In Wisconsin, a bank robber said he was inspired to lead a life of crime by a television show devoted to catching criminals: "America's Most Wanted." Efrain Gonzalez-Guerra, 19, took his lead from a three-week-old episode featuring a serial bank robber when he hit two Green Bay-area institutions in two weeks earlier this month. In robbing a branch of Marshall & Ilsley Bank and the Banking Center of Bellevue, Mr. Gonzalez-Guerra used the same strategy, according to Jerry Wiesmueller, vice president of corporate security for M&I. He presented tellers with a cardboard box that he claimed was a bomb and told them to fill a bag with money. Police arrested him as he fled from the on his bicycle. - Jonathan D. Epstein, Christopher Rhoads, and James B. Arndorfer