Fifth Third Bancorp has promoted its lead independent director to chairman.

Marsha Williams' appointment at the $141 billion-asset company takes effect immediately. Williams has been on Fifth Third's board since 2008.

The Cincinnati company's previous chairman, James Hackett, retired last month; its former chief executive, Kevin Kabat, also gave up his vice chairman role last month. At the time, Fifth Third said it could operate without a chairman, because the lead independent director functioned in the role of chairman.

In the interim, Fifth Third's board conducted "a thorough and thoughtful review of potential candidates," said spokesman Larry Magnesen. At the end of the review, Williams was unanimously elected chairman. She is designated as non-executive chairman, the same title held by Hackett.

Williams was previously chief financial officer at Orbitz Worldwide and Equity Office Properties Trust.

Hackett stepped down from Fifth Third to become a director at Ford Smart Mobility, a unit of the automobile manufacturer that develops mobility services. He had been chairman since April 2014.

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