NEW YORK — Associated Banc-Corp.'s shares rose after the bank holding company announced late Monday it has appointed Philip Flynn to the post of president and chief executive.

The company has been conducting a search for a new CEO since August, when current Chairman and CEO Paul Beideman said he would retire upon the hiring of a successor.

Flynn, 52, has been with UnionBanCal Corp. in San Francisco since 1980, and most recently served as the company's vice chairman and operating chief. UnionBanCal is now part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.

Raymond James analyst Dennis Klaeser said in a note to client he believes Flynn's appointment is a "positive development" for Associated, because of his "extensive experience at a larger, high-quality, fast-growing commercial bank like Union Bank."

Associated shares rose 3.9% to $11.87 in recent trading. The stock is off 43% so far this year and has edged up 1% in the last month.

Klaeser added he has said in the past that the company is poised to emerge from the credit cycle with a strong capital position and the potential for strong earnings growth, and said the addition of Flynn reinforces that thesis.

"We believe Mr. Flynn's background will help Associated Bank manage through its current credit issues, exploit growth opportunities and capture market share from regional competitors like Marshall & Ilsley Corp.," he wrote. "We also believe the board's decision to split the CEO and chairman was a smart governance move that will serve to protect shareholder interests."

As such, the board also elected William Hutchinson as its chairman. Hutchinson has been a director since April 1994 and the lead independent director since April.

Last week, the company saw its shares drop after it said it entered an informal agreement with its primary regulator, though Klaeser at the time called the market's concerns unfounded.

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