News Column

PNC CEO Rohr to Retire; Successor in Place

Feb. 15, 2013

Patricia Sabatini

PNC Financial Services Group Chairman and CEO James Rohr plans to step down from the Pittsburgh region's biggest bank in April after nearly 13 years at the helm, to be succeeded by current President William S. Demchak, the board announced late Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Demchak, 50, who joined PNC as chief financial officer from JPMorgan Chase in 2002, has been considered the heir apparent for several years. He became senior vice chairman in 2009 and president in April last year.

Mr. Rohr, 64, will step aside at the annual shareholders meeting April 23. He will continue as executive chairman for one year to ensure a smooth transition, the company said.

The announcement of Mr. Rohr's departure was not unexpected. He has hinted in the past that he expected to leave the top spot by age 65. He turns 65 in October.

Mr. Rohr praised his successor Thursday.

"Bill has demonstrated exceptional leadership" at PNC, Mr. Rohr said of Mr. Demchak, who in 2009 was said to be among the candidates for the top spot at Bank of America.

"His candor and work ethic have earned him the trust of employees and investors, and the confidence of PNC's board. He deserves the opportunity to steer PNC into the future," Mr. Rohr said.

Mr. Demchak, a Rochester, N.Y., native who graduated from Fox Chapel Area High School and Allegheny College in Meadville, steps in at a high point for PNC. The bank is generally well-regarded by analysts for a better-than-average performance throughout the financial crisis.

The super-regional bank is ranked ninth nationwide as measured by assets and seventh in deposits, having doubled in size in late 2008 at the height of the economic crisis with the blockbuster takeover of failing Cleveland-based National City Bank, which was being pushed by federal regulators to find a buyer.

Mr. Demchak's arrival at PNC a decade ago came during a much rockier period for the bank.

His appointment as CFO had to be approved by federal regulators, who were overseeing PNC's operations as part of a settlement in 2002 over an improper accounting maneuver involving troubled loans that had the effect of inflating PNC's profits.

It was a difficult period for PNC and one that nearly derailed Mr. Rohr's career just two years after taking over as CEO.

But Mr. Rohr and PNC bounced back.

Mr. Rohr, a Cleveland native and Notre Dame grad who came to Pittsburgh in 1972 to join PNC's management training program, is one of the longest-serving and most influential CEOs in this region.

His many civic contributions include a three-year term as chairman of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development from 2006 to 2008, the region's top economic and civic leadership group.

In addition, he and PNC have been at the forefront of the redevelopment of Downtown in recent years, including the formerly dilapidated Fifth Avenue corridor.

The bank opened the 23-story Three PNC Plaza on Fifth in 2009 and is now building the 33-story Tower at PNC Plaza a half-block away on Wood Street that's set to open in 2015. PNC also is redeveloping the former Lord & Taylor store into office space.

Mr. Rohr also was instrumental in molding Downtown's transformed Cultural District, serving as board chairman of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 2000 to 2006, encouraging collaboration and working tirelessly on the capital campaign that raised the funds to build the O'Reilly Theater, said Kevin McMahon, CEO of the trust.

Mr. McMahon on Thursday called Mr. Rohr "the best volunteer" he's ever known.

Source: (c)2013 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Distributed by MCT Information Services

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