John H. Beirise, a top executive at Mercantile Bancorp, will leave the St. Louis company at the end of February after being left out in a management reorganization.

Mr. Beirise, group president of capital markets and one of 10 top executives at Mercantile, was instrumental in the reorganization, which merged his department into the corporate banking division. Joseph E. Hasten, executive vice president in charge of corporate banking, will oversee capital markets.

Mr. Beirise, 52, told chairman Thomas H. Jacobsen last month of his intent to leave. Mr. Beirise declined to comment for this article, but sources said the executive likely saw no room for advancement. Mercantile has a very flat organization under Mr. Jacobsen. While some observers once thought Mr. Beirise would some day advance at least to the company's No. 2 job, Mr. Jacobsen has chosen not to designate anyone for that role.

Sources predicted that Mr. Beirise would pursue a high post in an investment banking company or another financial services company.

From the day he joined Mercantile in 1992 after 24 years at Chicago's Continental Bank Corp., Mr. Beirise had been a big fish in a small pond. Leaving the bigger organization as a senior vice president in corporate banking, he joined Mercantile as senior executive vice president in charge of institutional banking.

In June 1995, he was named group president in charge of emerging markets, which included oversight of mergers and acquisitions. His title was changed to group president of capital markets in January 1997, but he remained in charge of M&A until last October. On his watch, Mercantile grew from about $12 billion of assets to $30 billion, largely due to 11 acquisitions.

W. Randolph Adams, senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer, was given responsibility for acquisitions in October, and Mr. Beirise was given additional responsibility for financial advisory services.

Anthony Polini, an analyst at Advest Group, said he once believed Mr. Beirise would rise to No. 2 at Mercantile. Most impressive was his oversight of acquisitions, the analyst said. "John seemed to do everything right," he said. "We're disappointed to hear he's leaving."

Mercantile officials declined to comment on Mr. Beirise's departure but confirmed that capital markets, which includes a foreign exchange and bond trading operation and a small brokerage business, was being merged with corporate banking.

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