Martin retires at Provident

Geisel rises to chairman, CEO

Byrnes named president, chief operating officer

bank's 1Q profit is higher

April 17, 2003|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

After 13 years with the bank - the last five as the top executive - Peter M. Martin did as expected yesterday and stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of Provident Bankshares Corp. after the annual stockholders meeting.

Gary N. Geisel, 54, Provident's current second in command and Martin's hand-picked successor, was elected to serve in both posts, effective immediately.

Also yesterday, Provident announced a 2.6 percent increase in net income and a 7 percent jump in earnings per share for the first quarter that ended March 31. The results were in line with analysts' estimates.

Martin, 65, made his retirement official during a board of directors meeting after the annual meeting, held yesterday at the bank's East Lexington Street headquarters.

With the ascension of Geisel, Kevin G. Byrnes, 55, senior executive vice president, was elected president and chief operating officer, the positions Geisel had occupied.

Byrnes joined Provident in November.

"It feels pretty good," Martin said of his retirement during a brief news conference featuring all three executives immediately after the stockholders meeting.

"I think Provident is in very good shape," Martin said. "These two guys [Geisel and Byrnes] are very competent."

A Boston-area native, Martin earned his undergraduate and M.B.A. degrees from Harvard, and started his career in 1961 with a three-year stint at General Electric Co., according to Provident.

After another three-year stint - this one at Honeywell Inc. - Martin entered the banking world in 1966 when he took a job with the Bank of Boston, Provident said.

Martin joined Provident Bank of Maryland in February 1990. He became chairman, CEO and president in April 1998, giving up the president's title to Geisel in January 2001.

Martin said he will remain active. He has two boats - one in Florida and another in New England - and is an investor and director in a small bank in Maine.

Under Geisel, Provident's growth strategy isn't expected to change soon.

The bank is continuing to expand in the Washington area by opening 14 branches this year.

"We're happy with our Baltimore [business]," Geisel said. "But when we sized up the market, and looked at potential strategic fits, [Washington] fits our strategy" to add to Provident's base in Baltimore.

At the end of the first quarter, Provident had 113 offices.

During the quarter, Provident said, it had net income of $11.8 million, up 2.6 percent from the $11.5 million earned during the first quarter of 2002.

Earnings per share on a fully diluted basis came in at 47 cents, up 7 percent from the 44 cents earned during the comparable period the year before.

Both Martin and Geisel said Provident had looked very closely at two acquisition candidates during the past 12 months, although neither deal materialized.

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