Stop the Music

Fifth Third Bancorp continues to play musical chairs with its top financial position.

When Fifth Third this week shifted controller Daniel Poston to chief financial officer to replace Ross Kari, it was the fifth time the job had changed hands since 2004.

Kari left just 10 months after joining the $116 billion-asset Cincinnati company to take the same post at Freddie Mac.

Kevin Kabat, Fifth Third's chairman and chief executive, put a positive spin on the change. "While we will miss him, I fully understand his desire to be involved in shaping the future of home mortgage financing," he said in a statement.

Poston is no stranger to the CFO job, serving as the interim for most of last year as the company took its time filling the position.

Mark Hazel, Fifth Third's assistant controller, will serve as interim controller.

Kari got a $2 million sign-on award to compensate him for potential incentive pay he forfeited in leaving Fifth Third, Dow Jones Newswires reported Thursday, citing a federal filing. Kari's base salary at Freddie is at least $675,000 and he will get the opportunity to earn up to $3.5 million annually.

Hedging 'bama Bets

BB&T Corp. is covering the field when it comes to Alabama football.

BB&T already made a splash in the state last month, buying Colonial Bank in Montgomery after it was seized by regulators. Within a week, the Winston-Salem, N.C., company had agreed to continue Colonial's sponsorship of Auburn University sports. (Former Colonial Chief Executive Bobby Lowder sits on Auburn's board of trustees.)

That wasn't enough. Last week the company announced a deal to sponsor the University of Alabama's football program, placing itself squarely on both sides of one of college sports' most heated rivalries.

Donta Wilson, BB&T's Alabama president, said the move makes sense because so many clients in the state cheer for one of the two schools. "Alabama loves its football," he said. "It is like a religion."

Just Bad Timing?

Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Vikram Pandit has taken a lot of heat in his attempt to clean up a mess largely created under former Citi CEO Chuck Prince. But Pandit still found something nice to say about his predecessor last week during a question-and-answer session at the 92nd Street Y in New York.

Asked for his thoughts on Citi's past leadership, Pandit praised Prince's efforts to integrate the disparate pieces of Citi's business — a strategy largely being undone now with Citi looking to sell or wind down noncore assets and bad investments.

Prince wasn't the only former Citi CEO to win accolades from Pandit, who also acknowledged John Reed's knack for understanding consumers, and Sanford Weill's prowess in investment banking and emerging markets. But with that kind of leadership, how did Citi stumble so badly?

"Where we as a company went wrong was we probably overstayed some businesses too long, we probably overstayed some people too long and we got in at the top of the market" in too many investments, Pandit explained.

Cards and Causes

Capital One Financial Corp. is now letting its customers use their credit cards to help their local parent-teacher association.

The $171.9 billion-asset McLean, Va., company has partnered with, a rewards program for nonprofits, to offer customers credit cards custom designed to reflect the PTA at their local school.

Cardholders can also earn monetary rewards that go directly to their PTA by purchasing goods and services at merchants listed on

Parents generally are already using a credit card to make purchases, and this helps them turn that into another way of giving back to their local community and their school, said Pam Girardo, a spokeswoman for Capital One.

Huntington Hire

Elizabeth Heller Allen has joined Huntington Bancshares Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, as its new head of communications.

Allen starts Monday. A guest lecturer at Northwestern University, she was previously vice president in charge of marketing and communications at Premier Health Partners, a Dayton, Ohio, hospital operator.

Allen will oversee internal and public communications as well as customer and government affairs.

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