1st Maryland chief pursues rapid growth Keating joins bank as vice president of retail division

Maddox heads merger unit

CEO Bramble wants $5 billion to $8 billion asset gain in 2 years

January 04, 1996|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

First Maryland Bancorp's president and chief executive said yesterday that he will try to add from $5 billion to $8 billion in assets to the company's books in the next two years.

In one of his most aggressive statements in recent months, Frank P. Bramble said in an interview that the company has $300 million at its disposal for deals, and has formed a mergers and acquisitions group that is charged with helping to nearly double the size of the $10 billion-asset banking company.

First Maryland also said yesterday that it hired Susan C. Keating to head its retail division, one of the top three jobs at the bank. Five months ago, Ms. Keating abruptly left her senior management position at Na- tionsBank in Baltimore.

To help feed the growth, First Maryland created the mergers, acquisitions and consolidation group that will search "full time" for banks, asset management companies and other businesses to acquire.

Jeff Maddox, a First Maryland executive, has been named head of the four-member team.

Mr. Bramble said the company is looking for acquisitions in south-central Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington and Northern Virginia. "We just have go and find the deals," he said.

Ms. Keating, as executive vice president, will supervise 176 branches in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington and Delaware. She also will oversee First Maryland's ATM network, its $1.5 billion consumer lending portfolio, retail deposits of $3 billion, brokerage products, telemarketing and marketing.

"It is certainly one of the top jobs of the company," Mr. Bramble said. "Her personality has already lit the place up. She started at 9:30 this morning."

Mr. Bramble said that pri or to hiring Ms. Keating, the bank's retail operations reported to several individuals.

Negotiations between Ms. Keating and First Maryland executives began over the holidays, Mr. Bramble said.

"I am very excited to be a part of First Maryland," Ms. Keating said. "I believe that it is an exceptional management team. I believe it is going to be the best banking company in the region."

Ms. Keating, 45, is one of the highest-ranking female bankers in Maryland. A former English teacher, she joined MNC Financial Inc. in 1988 and had a meteoric rise. She eventually became executive vice president in 1992, overseeing the day-to-day operations of MNC's general bank and thousands of employees.

After MNC was acquired by Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank Corp. in 1993, Ms. Keating was named president of NationsBank Maryland. But she was placed on administrative leave in June, and in August she left abruptly after clashing with R. Eugene Taylor, president of NationsBank's mid-Atlantic banking group, sources said.

It was widely anticipated that Ms. Keating would end up at First Maryland, because she had worked closely with Mr. Bramble, the former president of MNC Financial and chairman of NationsBank Maryland. Mr. Bramble left NationsBank in December 1993.

"I think this is a great time to be a part of banking in the region because there is a lot of change in the industry," Ms. Keating said. "We at First Maryland can really capitalize on that change."

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