McComish to Harris
Executives from Wachovia Corp. are landing on their feet.Chris McComish, who left Wachovia's retail bank in October, after the Charlotte company was forced to sell itself, will join Bank of Montreal's Harris Bank in Chicago this month as its head of retail banking.
He was the head of community banking at Wachovia and will report directly to Harris Bank's CEO, Ellen Costello.
Mr. McComish had been running Wachovia's retail bank on an interim basis since April, when Timothy Crane left to join a competitor.
In an interview Thursday, Mr. McComish would not discuss any particular plans for Harris, though he said it "has a great, long-standing name around Chicago and other communities, and they should be able to capitalize on disruption in the markets."
His plan to leave Wachovia was announced over the summer, before the extent of its woes became apparent.
Wachovia, which stumbled heavily in mortgages, is in the final stages of selling itself to Wells Fargo & Co. The deal expected to close this month.
Other Wachovia executives on the move include Cece Sutton, who headed its retail and small-business banking unit but is poised to start running Morgan Stanley's fledgling retail bank next month. B.J. Losch, who was the chief financial officer of Wachovia's general bank, became the CFO of First Horizon National Corp. last month.
Wachovia executives are not the only ones from embattled institutions moving on.Charles R. Rinehart, who was hired as Downey Financial Corp.'s chief executive officer in September, could not save the Newport Beach, Calif., company from its home lending woes — it failed last month.
But Mr. Rinehart's services remain in demand. MBIA Inc., an Armonk, N.Y., bond insurer that has been dinged by mortgage-related losses, said this week that Mr. Rinehart, 61, has joined its board of directors.
He is a banking industry veteran. Most notably, he was the chairman and CEO of H.F. Ahmanson & Co. in the 1990s, until Washington Mutual Inc. bought it in 1998. He is currently the chairman of VeriFone Holdings Inc.
Mr. Rinehart could not be reached for comment, but Claire Gaudiani, MBIA's corporate governance committee chairman, said in a press release that Mr. Rinehart's expertise in finance will help MBIA "as we work to transform the company for future success."
After five straight quarterly losses, driven by bad mortgages, last month regulators forced Downey to sell off its bank assets to U.S. Bancorp, and the holding company filed for bankruptcy protection.
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Corrected December 9, 2008 at 8:13PM: In a previous version, an item in this column garbled several executives' jobs. It should have said that Ellen Costello had been running Harris Bank's retail bank on an interim basis since the April departure of Timothy Crane.