Synovus Financial Corp. said Monday that Richard Anthony is taking an indefinite leave of absence after being diagnosed with a blood vessel disorder.

Anthony, who has been the company's chief executive since 2005, is being treated at the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham for a condition known as Wegener's Syndrome, the $32 billion-asset Columbus, Ga., company said. Synovus said Anthony first started having symptoms several weeks ago and that Kessell Stelling, the company's president and chief operating officer since February, was named interim CEO.

James Yancey, who retired as Synovus' chairman five years ago, will assume that role for Anthony on an interim basis.

"We share in the concern for Richard's health and wish him a rapid recovery," V. Nathanial Hansford, the company's lead director, said in a press release. "In his absence, we are very fortunate to have a strong leader in Kessel Stelling to continue his oversight of the day-to-day operations of the company while also driving the vision and strategy for the future."

Anthony, 63, has had a busy tenure during his five years at the helm. He was involved in the decisions to spin off card processing unit Total System Services and tackling its credit quality issues. Synovus is also in the final stages of consolidating more than 30 banks into a single charter.

The company has endured seven consecutive quarters of losses as it deals with problems from past dealings in commercial real estate loans. Synovus raised more than $1 billion in capital last month.

"Now it's important that I focus my energy on my health to ensure my recovery is swift," Anthony said in a release, leaving open the possibility of a return. "I will remain in regular contact during my treatment, which has already begun, and look forward to resuming my duties."

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