M&T Names Czarnecki COO as Pinto Quits Bank’s Board

M&T Bank Corp., the lender struggling to complete its merger with Hudson City Bancorp Inc., shuffled its top managers after Vice Chairman Michael P. Pinto, 57, resigned from its board, citing “a serious medical condition.”

M&T named President Mark J. Czarnecki, 58, to the vacant job of chief operating officer, the Buffalo, New York-based bank said today in a statement. Chief Financial Officer Rene F. Jones and Executive Vice President Kevin J. Pearson were named vice chairmen, the bank said.

The shakeup follows a new delay in M&T’s $3.7 billion takeover of New Jersey-based Hudson City, announced in August 2012. The deadline was pushed back for a second time in December to the end of this year amid Federal Reserve probes into M&T’s money-laundering controls. The revised roster puts Czarnecki in line to succeed Chief Executive Officer Robert G. Wilmers, 79, according to Joseph Fenech, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP.

“Mark Czarnecki and Mike Pinto were being carefully elevated on an equal level,” said Fenech, who has a hold rating on the shares. “There wasn’t a clear front-runner.”

In the new structure, Wilmers will have three people reporting to him directly instead of two, said Mike Zabel, a spokesman for M&T. Previously, Czarnecki and Pinto were Wilmer’s direct reports, he said. Czarnecki will oversee the day-to-day management including coordination of the credit, audit and risk divisions, the bank said.

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Pearson, 52, will be responsible for commercial banking. Jones, 49, will be be responsible for the treasury division and Wilmington Trust, the wealth subsidiary under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.

“It seems like those two are being elevated equally in the same way that Pinto and Czarnecki were elevated several years ago,” Fenech said.

Pinto will continue as vice chairman of the M&T Bank subsidiary in a part-time advisory role, the company said.

M&T’s biggest shareholders include billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., with a stake of more than 4 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The shares advanced 0.5 percent to $115.38 at 9:42 a.m. in New York, bringing its gain for the past 12 months to 13 percent. That’s less than half the 31 percent climb for the KBW Bank Index. M&T was the worst performer in the 24-company benchmark during 2013.

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