H&R Block Names Tom Gerke Interim CEO as Cobb Plans to Retire

H&R Block Inc. said General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer Tom Gerke will take over as interim chief executive officer to replace Bill Cobb, who plans to step down in July.

The biggest U.S. tax-preparation firm hired recruiters to help find a permanent replacement, Kansas City, Missouri-based H&R Block said Tuesday in a statement. Cobb, 60, came out of retirement in 2010 to join the company’s board and has been CEO since 2011.

Under Cobb, H&R Block developed new products to compete with online alternatives such as Intuit Inc.’s TurboTax and sold its banking unit, allowing the company to exit Federal Reserve oversight, a move that took years. The firm’s stock has climbed almost 17 percent since December. Since Cobb became CEO in May 2011, the shares have advanced 69 percent, compared with an 81 percent increase in the S&P 500 Index.

“The Board is focused on conducting a thorough search to identify the leader for H&R Block’s next phase of growth,” Robert A. Gerard, chairman of the board of directors, said in the statement.

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