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April 30, 2008

H&R Block shuffles leadership

H&R Block shuffles leadership

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.

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