June 11, 2013 / 10:06 PM / 6 years ago

CIBC names Nesbitt COO, observers see him in line for CEO

A sign is pictured outside a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce branch in Ottawa August 26, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) said on Tuesday it had named Richard Nesbitt chief operating officer, raising speculation he will be the eventual successor to CEO Gerry McCaughey at Canada’s fifth-largest bank.

Nesbitt, who has been running CIBC’s wholesale banking unit since 2008 and took on added responsibility for the bank’s international operations in 2011, will add the COO job to his current duties, the bank said.

“This title is in recognition of the leadership role Richard has been playing at CIBC over the past two years and the increased responsibilities he was given during that time,” McCaughey said in a statement.

McCaughey signed a four-year contract extension in May and is not expected to step down in the immediate future. But Barclays Capital analyst John Aiken said Nesbitt’s new title suggests the bank is preparing for an eventual succession.

“Gerry was not expected to be the next (Canadian bank CEO) to go and I don’t think this changes that. It’s just the market likes not being surprised, so if and when Gerry decides to step down, it does look like Richard will be next,” he said.

The move, which follows recent announced leadership changes at Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), was part of a minor shuffle in the bank’s head office.

CIBC also said Tom Woods had been named vice-chairman, while Laura Dottori-Attanasio will replace him as chief risk officer. Most recently, Dottori-Attanasio was global head of corporate credit products.

Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by David Gregorio

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