Breeden Takes Control At H&R Block

Nov 20 2007 | 4:09pm ET

Two months after winning a seat on the board of H&R Block, former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Richard Breeden is moving into the corner office.

Breeden, who now heads an eponymous Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, was named chairman of the country’s largest tax preparer, after Mark Ernst, the chairman and CEO who had campaigned against Breeden’s election to the board, resigned. H&R Block has suffered $1 billion in subprime mortgage-linked losses as a deal to sell its Option One Mortgage Corp. was falling apart.

Allen Bennett, the retired Aetna CFO, was named interim CEO.

In his proxy battle—he and two other Breeden Partners nominees were elected to the board in September—Breeden complained about H&R Block’s “lagging performance, its poor return to stockholders compared to market averages during recent years and its future strategy for growth.”

The company is expected to shutter Option One if it can’t find a buyer, and Breeden may also decide to sell or close H&R Block’s securities arm, H&R Block Financial Advisors.

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