Wells Fargo Finance Chief Atkins Steps Down, Takes Unpaid Leave

Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011 12:20 AM

 

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Wells Fargo & Co.'s chief financial officer will retire after taking nearly a half year of unpaid leave, and will be replaced by the bank's administrative chief.

Shares of the San Francisco-based bank declined 3.2 percent to $33.08 in after-hours trading. Shares had climbed 2.3 percent on Tuesday before the announcement.

CFO Howard Atkins, 60, will retire in August after an unpaid leave of absence, the bank said on Tuesday. The unpaid leave begins immediately and Atkins is now replaced by Timothy Sloan, 50.

Atkins, who had been with Wells Fargo since 2001, is retiring for personal reasons unrelated to the bank's financial reporting or condition, the bank said.

But analysts said the structure of Atkins' retirement raises questions about the departure of the finance chief from the fourth largest U.S. bank with $1.3 trillion in total assets.

"Investors are being driven by the unknown of this. It looks odd and the reasons are vague, so the mindset is sell it," said Matt McCormick, portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel Inc.

A Wells Fargo spokesman declined to comment on the reasons behind Atkins' departure, but said the August retirement allows certain retirement benefits to vest.

"I would think if somebody had a health issue you would have some paid time, though every company is different. It's odd," said Chris Marinac, bank analyst at FIG Partners LLC in Atlanta.

Atkins joined Wells Fargo from New York Life Insurance Co, where he worked as CFO and an executive vice president. He also spent 17 years at Chase Manhattan Bank, eventually becoming that bank's corporate treasurer.

 

EXECUTIVE MOVES

Atkins' retirement is the latest in a series of recent executive changes at the largest U.S. banks.

In November, Regions Financial Corp spooked investors by announcing the company's chief risk officer and several key lieutenants had left the company.

The Birmingham, Alabama-based bank named a replacement in December.

In January, Morgan Stanley promoted Jim Rosenthal, its technology head, to the post of chief operating officer. Rosenthal replaced Thomas Nides, who left the Wall St investment bank and brokerage to join the U.S. State Department.

 

WELLS' NEW CFO

Sloan was named chief administrative officer last year after previously working as head of Wells Fargo's commercial banking, real estate and specialized financial services from 2006-2010.

In that post, Sloan managed a portfolio of $200 billion in assets and 440 offices in 40 U.S. states, Canada, London and in Asia.

In his new role, Sloan will oversee the company's financial management functions, investment portfolios, and will continue managing the company's strategic planning. Sloan will continue to report to Chief Executive John Stumpf.

Sloan joined Wells Fargo in 1987.

In turn, Patricia Callahan will take Sloan's old post. Callahan currently oversees the integration of Wachovia's operations into Wells Fargo.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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