Bank dismisses five top-level executives Hales names own team at Baltimore Bancorp

December 07, 1991|By Timothy J. Mullaney

Baltimore Bancorp's new lords dismissed the old regime's vassals yesterday in an executive housecleaning that swept out most remaining top aides of deposed Chief Executive Harry L. Robinson.

Executive Vice President Jerome P. Baroch, Corporate Secretary Herman Crowley, Senior Vice Presidents Joseph Spada and Ronald Espy and Corporate Counsel John Cooper were all let go, Chairman Edwin F. Hale Sr. said. Mr. Robinson and former President John Haigh have already left and been replaced by new CEO Charles H. Whittum Jr. and President Alan Leberknight.

The replacements confirm that the new management of the parent of the Bank of Baltimore will look like an alumni club for Signet Bank/Maryland, the former home base of both Mr. Whittum and Mr. Leberknight.

Thomas M. Scott III, a former Signet executive who had been running Baltimore Bancorp's commercial real estate operations since June, will be in charge of Real Estate Group operations, which will include mortgage banking and real estate that the bank has repossessed.

Robert C. Brennan, another Signet executive, will become the Bank of Baltimore's head of commercial lending, a department that handles middle-market loans to businesses outside the real estate industry.

Commercial lending is especially important to Mr. Hale and Mr. Whittum's plans; during the five-month proxy fight that put them in charge of the company in September, they criticized Baltimore Bancorp's weak presence in commercial banking, a strength of Signet's. They have said they want to make a push for the business of small and mid-sized local companies.

Mr. Hale said the company is in the final stages of selecting a chief financial officer, who would replace former Controller James Langmead, who departed shortly after Mr. Hale seized control of the board of directors.

Mr. Hale had expected to wrap up a deal with the new person yesterday, but late in the afternoon the company said the appointment won't be made until next week. "Not everybody who was a part of the team fighting us is being knocked off," Mr. Hale said. "We felt the ones we kept could make a contribution. We think they're very impressive people."

About the only executives of the old regime to survive was Executive Vice President Larry D. Unger and Investor Relations Director David L. Spilman. Mr. Unger was named Consumer Lending Group executive, the bank announced. He had been in charge of the company's leasing unit, which will now be under Mr. Brennan. Mr. Spilman had only joined the bank in July and wasn't closely linked to the old management.

The changes were sweeping, David S. Penn, an analyst who follows Baltimore Bancorp for Legg Mason Inc., said. "That's almost all the senior executives." The realignment was not unexpected. While Mr. Hale had said he and Mr. Whittum would give each of the old regime's executives time to "prove themselves" to new bosses, he had been sharply critical of the bank's operations under Mr. Robinson.

The company is expected to announce soon what moves it will make to strengthen the bank's capital base, but Mr. Hale would not say yesterday what is planned.

Mr. Penn said one common way to prop up capital, selling assets, will be tricky because Baltimore Bancorp doesn't have big non-bank subsidiaries like the credit card company MNC Financial Inc. sold to investors this year.

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