CPA Al Johnson turns deal-makerBehind every staid CPA...


October 29, 1992|By David Conn

CPA Al Johnson turns deal-maker

Behind every staid CPA lurks a deal-maker. At least that's what lurked behind Al Johnson, former president of Stegman & Company, P.A., a Towson-based regional accounting and management consulting firm. Now he's bringing his old company into the fray, with a joint venture called Newport/Stegman Financial.

Mr. Johnson left the firm in 1989 to set up Newport Capital Corp., a merger and acquisition firm. But as Newport started to make deals in various industries, Mr. Johnson was drawn toward helping manage the acquired companies, and further from the business of matching buyers and sellers.

So about a month ago, he helped create Newport/Stegman Financial. "We could lend him the manpower necessary to grow that side of his business," said William R. Ross, general manager of Newport/Stegman, and a director of Stegman & Co.

Newport/Stegman will keep a data base of attorneys, ZTC accountants and "active buyers," and will publish a quarterly newsletter with descriptions of those buyers and of companies up for sale -- all strictly anonymous, Mr. Ross said. (Call 823-8000 to receive copies of the newsletter).

The joint venture's first deal, involving a local metal fabricator, is expected to close by the end of 1992, Mr. Ross said.

Mr. Johnson is chairman of Newport/Stegman, and Stegman President Jim Peacock is vice chairman of the joint venture. Managing USF&G Corp.'s investments may be a smaller job than it was a few years ago, but it was big enough to attract John C. Sweeney from Atlanta. This month, he accepted the job as the insurer's senior vice president and chief investment officer.

Mr. Sweeney, who left Atlanta's Towers Perrin Asset Consulting Services as a principal and practice director, will oversee USF&G's investment portfolio. At Towers, he worked in insurance company asset management and other taxable investment consulting. Before that, he was chief investment officer at McM/Occidental Peninsular Insurance Companies in Philadelphia.

A Philadelphia native with degrees from St. Joseph's University, the College of William and Mary, and North Carolina State University, the 48-year-old Mr. Sweeney replaces J. Michael Gaffney. He announced his resignation two months ago, but has stayed on during the transition.

Mr. Gaffney referred questions to a company spokesperson, who said he's leaving because his job had changed so dramatically. USF&G, once one of the nation's largest asset managers with $30 billion under management, has shed those divisions in the last two years in order to focus on the insurance business. What's left is $11 billion of the company's own money -- only half is managed in-house.

Noah takes helm of banking council

Dennis L. Noah can't report to the boss without leaving the country. So it's fitting that the vice president and manager of international operations at First National Bank of Maryland has taken the helm of the U.S. Council on International Banking.

At the council's annual conference in Nashville this week, Mr. Noah, 45, was named chairman of the group, which has 368 members nationwide. In addition to acting as the industry's voice on Capitol Hill and with federal regulators, the USCIB is the main information, education and networking organization for the nation's international bankers.

At the top of the USCIB's agenda in the coming year is its work with Canadian and Mexican bankers and with the trade officials negotiating details of the North American Free Trade Agreement. That includes an effort to standardize methods for check-clearing, Mr. Noah says.

His regular job often takes him abroad, including to Dublin, Ireland, the home of First National's parent (and Mr. Noah's ultimate boss), Allied Irish Banks. Mr. Noah said his new role, which starts Jan. 1, will keep him just as busy within U.S. borders. In this era of career ladders, company-hopping and golden parachutes, it's unusual to find an example of the George Bailey, "It's a Wonderful Life" loyalty of old. Willard Derrick, who this month celebrated his 40th year with Sandy Spring National Bank of Maryland, fits the bill.

Mr. Derrick, now 66, started as a clerk and worked his way up to chairman and chief executive officer of 124-year-old Sandy Spring. The $600 million institution had only $28 million in assets when Mr. Derrick joined it.

A native of Montgomery County, where Sandy Spring is based, Mr. Derrick has served as president of the county and state bankers associations, and has been a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Closer to home, employees honored him for his work with a local hospital, the Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Sandy Spring Museum.

At his reception, the Ronald Reagan-lookalike assured his colleagues, "It may be 40 years, but I'm not gone yet!"

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