MNC Financial Inc. yesterday ended its months-long search for a chief executive officer and president by announcing it had chosen Frank P. Bramble Sr., who has been one of the company's top operations executives for several years but was not directly involved in the spree of real estate lending that put the company at bankruptcy's brink.
Mr. Bramble was chief operating officer before being chosen for the top job at a meeting of the company's board Thursday afternoon. He said that he was aware he was a candidate for CEO but did not know he was getting the job until Thursday.
"We looked at a lot of good people," said MNC Chairman Alfred Lerner, who had been interim CEO since Alan P. Hoblitzell, the former chairman, resigned last year. "But even if he were an outside candidate, he would have been the best. The fact that he's an inside candidate makes it more appropriate that he get the job."
Mr. Lerner said that although Mr. Bramble is an insider, he wasn't an architect of the 1980s lending strategy that got the parent company of Maryland National Bank heavily into poor real estate loans. "He's never been on the lending side of the business," Mr. Lerner said. "That's true of a lot of good CEOs."
Instead, the 43-year-old Mr. Bramble spent much of the late 1980s managing the consolidation of American Security into MNC after the 1987 merger. Later, he directed the details of MNC's acquisition of Equitable Bancorporation. As chief operating officer, he has been in charge of the cost-reduction program the company launched in response to its loan-quality problems.
Mr. Bramble, who lives in North Baltimore, has worked for MNC since 1972.
David S. Penn, Legg Mason Inc. analyst, said the choice was logical.
"Given the job he's done in the past consolidating and cutting costs, he's probably the right guy," Mr. Penn said. "You don't need a marketing guy. You don't need a financial wizard. You need a no-nonsense guy who's willing to do what's right for the bottom line."
MNC also announced it has named Peter L. Gartman the company's chief financial officer and vice chairman of the board. Both he and Mr. Bramble were elected to the board for the first time this week.