Successor To Key Bank Chairman Is Picked

Deborah Bevier is KeyCorp's choice to replace Hans Harjo as chairman and chief executive officer of Key Bank of Washington.

Harjo resigned unexpectedly after leading the bank through a merger with Puget Sound Bank of Washington.

Bevier, 42, a veteran KeyCorp bank president, is chairwoman, president and chief executive officer of Key Bank USA, N.A., a bank-by-mail and equipment leasing subsidiary.

KeyCorp's management plans to recommend her to Key Bank of Washington's board when it meets later this week to determine Harjo's successor. KeyCorp of Albany, N.Y., is Key Bank's parent.

Bank officials said Ralph Holliday, currently overseeing day-to-day operations at Key Bank of Washington, will continue as president and chief operating officer.

No reason was given for Harjo's departure, which took effect Tuesday.

Harjo could not be reached for comment today. But sources familiar with the bank said they believed officals in Albany asked Harjo to leave. One important factor in that decision may have been the local bank's decision to move its headquarters from Seattle to Tacoma.

Harjo's resignation is the second KeyCorp. departure this week. James Waterston, chief banking officer, left the bank Monday, saying his goal of running a large bank appeared stalled at KeyCorp.

Key Bank, under Harjo's guidance, completed its acquisition of Tacoma-based Puget Sound Bank in January. The acquisition gave Key Bank more than 100 new branches but also presented Harjo with the challenge of keeping customers inherited from Puget Sound Bank happy.

Puget Sound had played up its local roots through advertising describing it as the "last major independent commercial bank left around here." Many customers felt betrayed when an out-of-state interest took over.