Continental Bank Corp. ballooned its trading and risk management unit a few years back, but it failed to show strong profits. Now the unit is shrinking, and it is up to Kenneth Cunningham to improve earnings - a tough assignment in the present business environment.

Mr. Cunningham recently was named managing director of Continental's global trading and finance operations in Chicago, taking over a remnant of the kingdom erected by S. Waite Rawls 3d. Mr. Rawls stepped down last September, Continental surrendered its primary dealership in U.S. government securities, and the work force was slashed to 600 workers from a peak of 2,600.

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