TD CEO Clark to retire in 2014, Masrani to succeed him

Wed Apr 3, 2013 2:15pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ed Clark, who transformed Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote) from a struggling Canadian lender into one of the largest retail banks in North America, will step down next year and hand the reins to the bank's U.S. unit leader, Bharat Masrani.

The handover, part of a larger changing of the guard taking hold in the Canadian banking sector, comes earlier than expected, but does not suggest a change in direction for Canada's second-largest lender, Masrani told Reuters.

"I don't see a change in vision," said Masrani, who had been seen as one of two likely successors to Clark. Tim Hockey, who runs TD's Canadian retail bank, was the other.

"We're a growth-oriented bank and we would like to grow all our businesses in all of the markets we are in," Masrani said.

Clark, 65, said last year that he planned to retire in the "next few years," but gave no signs that his departure was imminent.

Under Masrani's watch, TD's U.S. retail network has grown to around 1,300, outnumbering the bank's 1,200 Canadian branches at a time when the U.S. market is showing signs of recovering while Canadian loan growth is stagnating.

"I think probably what (Masrani's appointment) is saying is that they're going to stay with the focus on the U.S.," said John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities in Toronto.

The bank's shares were down 1.4 percent around midday, moving in line with the 1.5 percent drop in the Canadian financial sector, as investors said they expect few hiccups at the bank resulting from the transition.   Continued...

Toronto-Dominion Bank Group President and Chief Executive Ed Clark delivers a speech at the company's annual general meeting in Victoria, British Columbia March 31, 2011. REUTERS/Ben Nelms