Mercantile executive joins Baltimore rival

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 23, 2007|By Paul Adams | Paul Adams,Sun reporter

The chairman of Mercantile Bankshares Corp.'s private wealth management division has joined a Baltimore rival three weeks after PNC Financial Group completed its $6 billion acquisition of the bank.

Jeffrey W. Durkee, a former Legg Mason senior vice president who joined Mercantile last April, has been named president of M&T Investment Group, a division of Buffalo, N.Y.-based M&T Bank. The collection of investment subsidiaries has a combined $142 billion in assets under management, or roughly seven times that of Mercantile's wealth management group.

Durkee represents a high-profile departure following the PNC Financial acquisition, which closed earlier this month. Mercantile said in regulatory filings last year that it had set aside $39 million in retention bonuses to keep key employees from leaving during the uncertainty of the merger.

Fred Solomon, a PNC spokesman, declined to comment on the specifics of Durkee's departure. He said Durkee's role will be assumed by Bonnie Stein, who is currently in charge of Mercantile's investment and wealth management distribution network.

Durkee said he had come to know Atwood "Woody" Collins III, president of M&T's Mid-Atlantic division, during the past several years. The two had spoken about opportunities at M&T before Mercantile's merger with PNC. M&T's decision to make Baltimore the headquarters for its investment group played a role in Durkee's decision. M&T consolidated its investment group here after its purchase of Allfirst Financial Inc. in 2003.

"We'd like to grow this business," Durkee said.

Before joining Mercantile, Durkee was a Legg Mason senior vice president in charge of 700 employees in 51 branch offices spread across the South. Legg announced in 2005 that it was swapping its brokerage division for Citigroup Inc.'s asset management division in a $3.7 billion deal.

Durkee left Legg for Mercantile as the state's largest independent bank was recovering from a difficult period marked by turnover in its wealth management division. The bank ousted its head of wealth management in September 2003 and replaced him with John J. Pileggi, who himself was fired in late 2004 amid lawsuits and counter- suits. The division was regaining its footing when the PNC deal was announced.

At M&T, Durkee will oversee MTB Investment Advisors, the bank's investment advisory subsidiary, and the MTB Group of Funds, the bank's mutual fund division. He also will be responsible for its private client division.

"Our goal is build our presence in the Mid-Atlantic," Collins said. "In 2003 we started with Baltimore as a gleam in our eye and now it's almost half the company. ... "

paul.adams@baltsun.com

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