BUSINESS

Laurentian Bank's Robitaille to retire on Nov. 1, successor yet to be named

01/21/2015 12:57 EST | Updated 03/23/2015 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Laurentian Bank's president and CEO is retiring in November, joining four of Canada's top bankers who departed their posts in the past year.

Rejean Robitaille, 54, will leave Quebec's second-largest bank Nov. 1 after nearly nine years as its president and CEO.

Under his leadership, Laurentian (TSX:LB) has expanded through acquisitions but remains one of Canada's smaller chartered banks, with about 3,600 employees.

Robitaille declined requests for an interview, but said in a news release that it was "the appropriate time" to announce his departure.

"Laurentian Bank is in excellent financial health and stronger than ever. Although we have been faced with numerous challenges during the last few years, we have been able to adapt to this new and difficult environment and continue to perform well," he said.

Laurentian is the latest Canadian bank to undergo a change at the top, following retirements of the CEOs of Royal Bank (TSX:RY), Toronto-Dominion (TSX:TD), Scotiabank (TSX:BNS), and CIBC (TSX:CM) within the past 12 months.

Laurentian spokeswoman Gladys Caron said the board's process to select Robitaille's successor is ongoing and both internal and external candidates will be considered.

"We have a strong management team here, people that are talented and solid, so it is definitely something that the board will look at but they will make sure to make the best decision in the circumstances," she said.

Analyst Scott Chan of Canaccord Genuity said Robitaille's retirement was a surprise given his age and the growth potential at B2B Bank and commercial segments.

Chan said Robitaille's biggest contribution was diversifying operations with acquisitions MRS Companies and AGF Trust, building the commercial platform and diversifying outside Quebec.

Robitaille joined Laurentian in 1988. His rise to the top included stints as senior executive vice-president for retail and commercial services and chief operating officer.

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