Dime Bancorp's CEO Lawrence J. Toal has enlisted suave Anthony P. Terracciano as the white knight to rescue Dime from John Adam Kanas, chairman and CEO of North Fork Bancorp. Terracciano's armor may be shining, but the power behind it appears to be Toal, who is locked in bitter battle with Kanas, whose company last spring made a hostile $1.9-billion bid for the Dime.Terracciano comes as part of a package. Warburg Pincus Equity Partners, which has worked with Terracciano in the past, will invest $238 million in Dime, providing it with funds to buy back as much as 12.5% of its stock, at a price higher than that being offered by Kanas.Though the 61-year-old Terracciano, a canny deal-maker who sold his First Fidelity Bancorp to First Union Corp. for a bundle in 1996, will succeed Toal as chairman, Toal will remain CEO--in other words, the boss. The two men have known each other since they were executives at Chase Manhattan Corp. 20 years ago.But Terracciano's appointment may have been engineered by Dime's board of directors, in hopes that bringing in an outsider will placate disgruntled shareholders and quell the outspoken Kanas. Analyst Kevin Timmons of First Albany Corp. isn't impressed. "Dime's got a legitimate offer on the table [from North Fork], and they should explore the deal," he says. As for Terracciano's appointment, he adds, "I think it will placate some investors but certainly not all of them."

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