At a time when other bankers might think of retiring, William S. Ogden is looking to buy and run troubled banks.

Mr. Ogden, a longtime Chase Manhattan Corp. executive whom regulators installed to run Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co., has started up his own investment company, William S. Ogden Inc., in Annapolis, Md., to take advantage of the consolidation sweeping the banking industry.

"I wish I was 30," said Mr. Ogden, who is 62. "This is a fascinating time for banking."

Pursued Southeast

In partnership with Odyssey Partners and some other investors, Mr. Ogden recently attempted to buy Southeast Banking Corp., Miami, which was seized by federal regulators on Sept. 19 and sold to First Union Corp., Charlotte, N.C.

Mr. Ogden said that his one-person firm was "very close" to New York-based Odyssey, but that this does not rule out the participation of other investors, "depending on the deal."

He said his interest was "not necessarily" limited to troubled banks, but "obviously the opportunity comes with the bank that's doing less well." He declined to specify the size of banks he was pursuing.

In the case of Southeast, which had $11.3 billion in assets, Mr. Ogden said the Odyssey group submitted no bid because the bank was seized less than three weeks after regulators distributed the bid specifications. "It's difficult for a private investor group to move that fast."

As previously reported, Odyssey and other investors had considered taking Southeast private after infusing it with between $450 million and $500 million in new capital. Such a transaction would have preserved some of the investment held by existing shareholders.

If the group had purchased Southeast, Mr. Ogden said, he would have been "actively involved" in managing the bank with chief executive Douglas E. Ebert.

Mr. Ogden began his banking career in 1952, when he joined Chase Manhattan Corp. after graduating from Rutgers University.

He spent many of his 31 years at Chase in the international division, where he organized what became known as the Ditchley Park Initiative, a series of meetings among senior lenders at big banks. These meetings led to the formation of the Institute of International Finance, a research group concerned with cross-border issues, particularly Third World debt.

From Chase to Continental

When Mr. Ogden retired from Chase, in February 1983, he was its No. 3 officer - vice chairman and chief financial officer of the parent and of Chase Manhattan Bank. Considered a contender for the presidency, he had been passed over in favor of Thomas G. Labrecque.

The following year, the Fedeeral Deposit Insurance Corp. bailed out Chicago-based Continental Illinois and tapped Mr. Ogden to run it. "He has very high standing with the regulators," said William M. Isaac, a former FDIC chairman, now with the Secura Group in Washington. "He has a long track recordc and a reputation for absolute integrity."

Mr. Ogden became entangled in a power struggle with Continental chairman John E. Swearingen and left after three stormy years. He returned to banking for a few weeks in August 1990, when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency appointed him conservator of National Bank of Washington, which federal regulators had just seized.

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