A leadership shake-up at F&M Bancorp. of Kaukauna, Wis., has left a new heir apparent to the 66-year-old chairman.
John W. Johnson, 43, was appointed chief operating officer at the $1.5- billion-asset company within days of the announcement that Gary Lichtenberg, who had held the job, was leaving. Mr. Johnson was also named president.
Mr. Lichtenberg had been expected to succeed Gail E. Janssen as chairman and chief executive officer. Now, however, said vice president Linda K. Seefeldt, the company expects Mr. Johnson to take over when Mr. Janssen steps down.
Mr. Lichtenberg resigned in mid-July. Ms. Seefeldt said it was for personal reasons, but would not elaborate, nor would she say if the company considered the decision sudden.
However, others familiar with the company said they believe Mr. Janssen and Mr. Lichtenberg may have clashed in personality and leadership style.
Mr. Lichtenberg, who is independently wealthy, did not leave for another job, sources said. Neither he nor Mr. Janssen was available for comment.
Mr. Lichtenberg came to F&M about a year ago from Appleton, Wis.-based Valley Bancorp., where he was a driving force behind efforts to centralize back-room operations, said Robert C. Ollech, a bank analyst at Principal Financial Securities Inc.
F&M had been touting Mr. Lichtenberg as Mr. Janssen's successor, and had featured him prominently at the annual shareholder meeting April 22.
Mr. Johnson joined F&M in 1994, when it bought Pulaski State Bank, which he led. He has been an F&M director since then and headed the company's Northeast division. He is credited with directing F&M's entry into the Green Bay market and previously oversaw 11 banks.
Mr. Janssen, who has maintained that he has no immediate plans to retire, may have had his eye on Mr. Johnson all along. Mr. Johnson confirmed that he had been considered for the job last year; he said the reason he was passed over was probably that he was considered too young.
He said that he and Mr. Janssen have similar management philosophies, and that he plans for the bank to maintain its acquisition pace over the next several years. F&M has acquired about a dozen banks over the last four years, primarily in rural communities. u