Fifth Third Bancorp has split the chairman and chief executive roles after adding William Isaac to its board.

Isaac, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., has succeeded Kevin Kabat as chairman. Kabat remains the $113 billion-asset Cincinnati company's president and CEO.

James Hackett, Fifth Third's lead independent director, said in a press release issued Friday afternoon that bringing on the Ohio native as nonexecutive chairman “improves our already strong corporate governance practices."

Fifth Third kept its top two positions separate until 2008, when George Schaefer Jr. retired and Kabat, the CEO since 2007, succeeded him as chairman.

Kabat told Dow Jones that the idea of a having a nonexecutive chairman "never left our minds."

"We wanted to be very progressive" about corporate governance, Kabat told the wire service.

Bloomberg News quoted a Fifth Third spokeswoman as saying the decision to split the chairman and CEO jobs again was “about corporate governance, it's not about performance."

Fifth Third shareholders rejected a proposal at April's annual meeting to require that the company's chairman be an independent director.

Isaac had also been leading a group called BSE Management LLC that had been looking to raise $2 billion to buy banks in the Southeast. A spokesman for BSE would not comment, and it was unclear if Isaac remained a part of that group, which also includes former U.S. Bancorp vice chairman David Moffett and Ray Christman, a former head of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.

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