H&R Block shuffles

The US tax agency H&R Block is seeking a new chief executive
following the resignation of Mark Ernst from the post. Ernst, who
is also vacating his post as chairman and president, will remain
with the company as a consultant until the end of the year to
facilitate the transition to new leadership.

Richard Breeden has been elected by the board as chairman and
will serve in a non-executive capacity with a principal focus on
external constituencies and leadership of the board. Alan Bennett
has been named interim chief executive while a permanent
replacement is sought.
The board has established a committee to find a permanent
replacement for the chief executive role. Breeden added: “Our
actions reflect a determination to focus on those activities where
H&R Block can generate significant shareholder value… By
refocusing on our core strengths and market-leading capabilities,
we will work to generate strong growth in shareholder value. The
board believes Alan Bennett’s experience and expertise make him the
right person to step into the role of interim chief executive. We
are delighted to welcome him to H&R Block.”

Bennett retired earlier this year as chief financial officer and a
member of the office of the chairman of health care benefits
company Aetna. Bennett currently serves as a director and chairman
of the audit committee of oilfields technology and services
supplier Halliburton. He will temporarily relocate to H&R Block
headquarters in Kansas City.

Breeden joined the company’s board in September this year. He
served as chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission
between 1989 and 1993. Breeden currently leads an investment fund
with approximately $1 billion in assets, which is a major investor
in H&R Block.

Ernst is the second senior executive leader to leave the publicly
listed company in the space of a month. William Trubeck, formerly
executive vice-president and chief financial officer, stepped down
from his position in November. The company’s senior vice-president
and treasurer, Becky Shulman, was named acting CFO.