H&R Block Names Russ Smyth CEO

The tax preparation giant had been led on an interim basis by Alan Bennett, since Mark Ernst resigned in November.
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H&R Block

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on Tuesday named Russ Smyth its new president and CEO.

Smyth, who will begin work at the tax preparer Aug. 1, spent 21 years at


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, where he most recently was president of the fast food chain's European division. He replaces Alan Bennett, who has served as interim CEO at H&R Block since November.

"Russ has excellent experience working with a powerful brand and delivering consistently high quality performance across a vast retail network," H&R Block Chairman Richard Breeden said in a company statement. "He also has extensive experience with finance and accounting, and appreciates the critical importance of improving returns on capital."

Breeden, a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission turned activist investor, was among a group of dissidents investors to gain election to H&R Block's board last year. CEO Mark Ernst resigned as chairman, president and CEO in November and in December, an agreement to sell the company's Option One Mortgage subsidiary to Cerberus Capital fell through.

In March, the company struck a deal with an affiliate of Ross' private-equity firm, WL Ross & Co., to unload Option One.

Smyth will also join H&R Block's board when he begins as CEO. The company said it also nominated Bennett for a position on the board, subject to shareholder approval in September.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.