William Goodyear, the top BankAmerica Corp. executive in Chicago, said last week that he will leave the company early next year.

"Personally, I am ready for new challenges," he said in a memo to the 4,000 Chicago employees.

Insiders said they were shocked by the announcement and could suggest no reason for him to be leaving-neither friction nor major events in the company. Mr. Goodyear could not be reached for comment.

A 27-year veteran of BankAmerica and Chicago predecessor Continental Bank Corp., Mr. Goodyear, 50, is president of the private bank.

He is a former vice chairman of Continental, which was bought by BankAmerica in 1994. He was chairman of Bank of America Illinois before BankAmerica merged its Chicago and San Francisco banks. Mr. Goodyear was named head of the global private bank in August 1997 and retained those responsibilities when BankAmerica merged with NationsBank Corp. in October.

As head of the private bank, Mr. Goodyear was responsible for relationships with affluent customers. A division of BankAmerica's wealth management business, the private bank has 95,000 customers, 4,200 employees nationwide, and $110 billion of assets.

Owen G. Shell Jr., president of wealth management, said in a separate memo that the company would move quickly to replace Mr. Goodyear. His successor may not be based in Chicago, a spokeswoman said. In the interim, private bank executives will report to Mr. Shell, who is based in St. Louis.

The most significant loss to the company may be Mr. Goodyear's civic, community, and political involvement in Chicago.

BankAmerica intends to appoint someone in Chicago to fill the role of a senior executive, said a spokesman. "He's been the voice of the bank in the city for years, and we're sorry to see him go," said BankAmerica spokesman Robert Wynne.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.