Middlesex Savings Bank in Natick. Mass., has promoted its chief commercial banking officer to president and named him successor to the chief executive.

The $4.2 billion-asset mutual thrift said Michael McAuliffe, 55, will succeed John Heerwagen as CEO when he retires in April.

McAuliffe joined the bank in 2014. He has led its commercial division and restructured its commercial lending and community business banking groups. He previously worked for RBS Citizens.

McAuliffe suggested that he will advocate for Middlesex remaining a mutual. Middlesex is one of the largest mutuals in the U.S.

“In today’s market, differentiation is key,” McAuliffe said in a Thursday news release. “The bank’s continued success will be built upon how we interact with our customers. Our mutual structure allows us to give them our complete focus and offer value over the long term.”

Heerwagen had long planned to retire as CEO in 2016, a bank spokeswoman said.

The move “has been at the forefront of our planning for some time,” Heerwagen said in an emailed comment. “And the succession is right on schedule.”

Heerwagen will also retire as chairman, although he plans to remain a director of Middlesex's mutual holding company. Middlesex did not indicate its plans for filling the chairman position after Heerwagen retires.

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