Comerica searching for a new CFO

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Comerica Bank in Dallas is looking for a new chief financial officer after appointing a temporary replacement for Muneera Carr, who is expected to leave in October, according to a regulatory filing.

The $72.4 billion-asset bank, the largest based in Texas, promoted James Herzog to interim CFO effective Sept. 11. Herzog had been Comerica’s executive vice president and treasurer.

Carr was chosen as CFO in November 2017 after joining the bank seven years prior as chief accounting officer. Carr has played a key role in the bank’s major project to cut costs over the past three years. She will remain as executive vice president until Oct. 10, the bank said in its disclosure.

“Carr’s departure from Comerica is not the result of any issue, concern or disagreement with Comerica’s accounting, financial reporting or internal control over financial reporting,” the bank said in the regulatory filing.

The bank declined to comment further.

Comerica embarks on its search for a replacement as it faces a potential series of rate cuts from the Federal Reserve. The bank is bracing for a $30 million hit to its annual net-interest income for the third quarter after the Fed elected to lower its main borrowing rate this summer, according to a presentation at the Barclays conference on Sept. 10.

The Fed cut its benchmark rate by a quarter point in late July and meets this week to consider further rate cuts.

Analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods said in a research note Friday that Herzog “can help to smooth the transition” until the bank finds a new CFO and that it was “vital” to have a strong executive in that position to help navigate the current rate environment.

Analysts also view the news of Carr's departure as a sign that Comerica's new CEO, Curtis Farmer, is ready to start building his own leadership team. Farmer, who had been president of the bank and its holding company, was named CEO in April, replacing longtime CEO Ralph Babb.

“While the timing of the announcement is surprising, we believe that the search for a new CFO is due in part to Curtis Farmer stepping into the CEO role in April 2019 and building his team around him,” KBW analysts said.

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