Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bank of Montreal Selects Downe as New CEO! Why?

Bank of Montreal (NYSE:BMO) as expected named Chief Operating Officer Bill Downe as president and chief executive, replacing outgoing Chief Executive Tony Comper, who will retire at the bank's annual meeting March 1.

Downe was appointed chief operating officer in February, following four years as deputy chair at BMO Financial Group and chief executive with BMO Nesbitt Burns, when he managed the investment banking group, private client group and BMO's U.S. operations.

Tony Comper will also step down from the board but will serve as an adviser until his April 24 retirement date, when he will be 62.

The change of dancing partners has more than meets the eye. Tony Comper will not stay on the board despite huge experience and longevity. Usually these credentials make an individual ideal board material.

Downe’s career DNA seems to be from the investment banking side. Given the lingering reverberations from Wall Street Scandals many banks have not given the nod to the deal makers. The question now becomes where will Downe take BMO.

Bank Stocks such as BMO are mainly prized for their long term dividend paying ability. Solid steady as she goes performance is mission critical. Banks usually find it very difficult to execute mergers and acquisitions. Integrating everything from systems to corporate cultures always proves more challenging than initially expected.

If investors are to believe in this man they will need to become comfortable with the vision of the future. Nothing is being presented to the public. The board must have considered the future. So why this guy?