Baltimore Bancorp's chief executive officer, C.H. "Buck" Whittum Jr., announced yesterday that he will retire next month and be replaced by the company's chairman, Edwin F. Hale Sr.
Alan C. Leberknight, president and chief operating officer of the company's banking unit, the Bank of Baltimore, will take over as chief executive of the bank.
Yesterday's move had been expected. Mr. Whittum, who took the job last summer after a bruising proxy fight for control of the bank, which has $2.9 billion in assets, had said he would stay at the company for only about a year.
Mr. Whittum retired from Union Trust Co. of Baltimore after it was acquired by Bank of Virginia in 1985. The merged company is now called Signet Banking Corp., and the old Union Trust was renamed Signet Bank/Maryland.
Mr. Hale led a slate of directors that ousted Baltimore Bancorp's former chief executive, Harry L. Robinson, but Mr. Whittum was put in charge of day-to-day management partly because Mr. Hale's business experience was concentrated in shipping and trucking.
"What we see in this move is continuity in management," said David L. Spilman, Baltimore Bancorp's treasurer and investor relations director. Mr. Leberknight "has been working shoulder to shoulder with Buck since last November," when Mr. Leberknight left his post as executive vice president of Signet Bank/Maryland to join Baltimore Bancorp.
Elisabeth Albert Hayes, an analyst who follows Baltimore Bancorpfor the investment firm Chapin Davis in Baltimore, said she did not think the move was a big deal.
"The way they structured this doesn't surprise me," she said.
Mr. Spilman said the new post does not mean that Mr. Hale will now be spending significantly more time at the bank, which he runs in addition to his transportation companies.
"He can't get any more active than he is," Mr. Spilman said. "He's fully immersed in the bank."
Mr. Whittum will remain a director and a consultant to the company, Mr. Spilman said, because he knows the bank's portfolio of troubled real estate loans "better than anyone in the bank."
Mr. Hale's first year of leading the bank has been eventful, marked by big losses on real estate loans that the company blamed on the previous management. It has also included the unhappy departure of several directors and the bank's outside law firm.