The president and chief executive of First Financial Northwest (FFNW) in Renton, Wash., will step down next week.

Victor Karpiak spent 36 years at the $902 million-asset company, First Financial said in its announcement Thursday. He will be succeeded by Joseph Kiley, who has served as president and CEO of First Financial's banking unit, First Savings Bank Northwest, since September. The management change is part of a planned succession announced in August 2012.

Karpiak's retirement comes after several years of contentious legal disputes between First Financial and activist investors. In December, Karpiak agreed to resign from his job as chairman as part of a settlement with Stilwell Group, an activist investor. Stilwell Group had filed a lawsuit in June of that year challenging the results of the company's board elections, in which Karpiak defeated Stilwell Group representative Spencer Schneider.

"On behalf of the boards of directors of the company and the bank, I want to express our sincere appreciation to Victor for the leadership and direction that he provided the company and the bank during his 36 years of dedicated service," Chairman Gary Kohlwes said in the release. "The management, staff, and directors are very grateful for his contributions to the company and we wish him well."

First Financial also announced that Richard Jacobson, its chief financial officer, will serve as chief operating officer and as a director of the company. All changes take effect Sept. 1.

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