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A Look Back at 2012's Bankers to Watch

Ron Hermance, Chairman and CEO, Hudson City Bancorp Ron Hermance, Chairman and CEO, Hudson City Bancorp

Hermance abruptly took a leave of absence in February after a physical revealed that he had an unusually low blood-cell count. He returned to work in August — just before his company agreed to sell to M&T Bank for $3.7 billion.

Stephen Gordon, Chairman and CEO, Opus Bank Stephen Gordon, Chairman and CEO, Opus Bank

Gordon continued to put capital to work this year, announcing plans to open several branches in West Coast states. Opus, an active acquirer last year, also bought 10 branches from PacWest Bancorp.

Richard Fairbank, Chairman and CEO, Capital One Financial Richard Fairbank, Chairman and CEO, Capital One Financial

Last year, industry observers wondered if Capital One would get regulatory approval to buy online bank ING Direct and HSBC Bank’s credit card portfolio. Fairbank succeeded on both fronts, rebranding the ING Direct business as Capital One 360.

Joseph DePaolo, President and CEO, Signature Bank Joseph DePaolo, President and CEO, Signature Bank

Outsiders have wanted to see New York's Signature Bank make more loans to address its hefty reliance on mortgage-backed securities. DePaolo formed a specialty finance group in March; by mid-year loans made up more than half of Signature’s total assets.

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Daryl Byrd, President and CEO, IberiaBank Daryl Byrd, President and CEO, IberiaBank

By IberiaBank standards, Byrd had a relatively quiet year. He did buy a small bank in Florida and hired an executive to oversee M&A but, for the most part, his team focused on cutting costs, closing a few branches, and growing loans in 2012.

Beth Mooney, Chairman and CEO, KeyCorp Beth Mooney, Chairman and CEO, KeyCorp

Mooney, the first female CEO of a top 20, domestically owned U.S. bank, pursued disciplined M&A in 2012, agreeing in January to buy 37 upstate New York branches from First Niagara Financial and buying back KeyCorp's credit card portfolio.

Philip Flynn, President and CEO, Associated Banc-Corp Philip Flynn, President and CEO, Associated Banc-Corp

Associated has emerged from the financial crisis as one of the Midwest's healthiest regional banks, and much of the credit goes to Flynn. The company is now in growth mode; commercial loans rose nearly 20% in the third quarter from a year earlier.

Cathleen Nash, President and CEO, Citizens Republic Bancorp Cathleen Nash, President and CEO, Citizens Republic Bancorp

Nash made a headlines in September when she orchestrated Citizens Republic's sale to First Merit in Akron, Ohio. The $912 million deal valued her $9.6 billion-asset company, which had returned to profitability a year earlier, at 1.26 times its tangible book value.

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Gerald Hassell, Chairman, President, CEO, BNY Mellon Gerald Hassell, Chairman, President, CEO, BNY Mellon

Hassell's challenge this year involved restoring BNY Mellon's credibility after it was hit with lawsuits tied to dealings with pension funds. BNY Mellon settled two big lawsuits in 2012; by year end Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway raised its stake in the company.

John Kanas, Chairman, President, CEO, BankUnited John Kanas, Chairman, President, CEO, BankUnited

Everyone expected Kanas to be competing in New York by now, but two incidents disrupted BankUnited's momentum. In January, the company briefly flirted with selling itself, finding that no one wanted to pay its asking price. Kanas also settled a lawsuit with Capital One over a noncompete agreement, which will delay his return to New York until February.

Every banker is under scrutiny, but last year we pegged 10 executives as potential news makers for 2012. Some made big headlines; others seemed to get through the year without making much noise. Here is a recap.

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