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Jun 15, 2020

Laurentian Bank says Francois Desjardins is stepping down as CEO

This was the dividend 'cut we needed to make': Laurentian Bank CEO

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Laurentian Bank of Canada said Francois Desjardins is stepping down as president and chief executive officer of the Montreal-based lender.

Desjardins, who departs on June 30, is leaving after leading Canada’s seventh-largest domestic lender for almost five years, a period that included overseeing a seven-year transformation plan, mortgage mishaps due to documentation issues and client misrepresentations and, most recently, a rare dividend cut prompted by the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Desjardins, a 29-year Laurentian veteran, is also resigning as director.

“Notwithstanding the recent difficulties presented by the pandemic, the bank remains in a strong position to deal with the challenges ahead with solid levels of capital and liquidity and excellent customer relationships,” Chairman Michael Mueller said in a statement Monday. “The ongoing implementation of the bank’s transformation strategy is well advanced and there is an opportunity to generate growth and enhance profitability through strong execution.”

Laurentian said it will immediately begin searching for Desjardins’ replacement. It named Stephane Therrien, executive vice president of personal and commercial banking and head of LBC Financial Services, as interim president and CEO.

Laurentian shares have fallen more than 40 per cent since Desjardins took over in November 2015, making it the worst-performing Canadian bank in that time period.