Kabat New Fifth Third CEO


    GRAND RAPIDS — Kevin T. Kabat, former president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank- Western Michigan, will succeed George A. Schaefer Jr. as CEO of Fifth Third Bancorp effective April 17.

    The news doesn’t come as a complete surprise because Kabat’s name has come up several times in the past couple of years as the likely successor to Schaefer. Kabat will be only the sixth CEO in the company’s 75-year history. Fifth Third has $105.8 billion in assets, 19 affiliates, and a total of 1,155 full-service banking centers across its 10-state footprint.

    “Kevin’s leadership since joining the company has been outstanding, and I’m excited about his leadership and the future direction of the company,” Schaefer stated. Schaefer has been CEO of the company since January 1991. He will remain chairman of the board of directors and will serve on the executive committee of the board in a non-executive capacity.

    Kabat is excited, as well: “I’m excited about the opportunity to lead such a talented group of executives, as well as our 22,000 employees, into a new chapter for this great company,” he said.

    There’s a sense of excitement at the Fifth Third affiliate here in town, too. Michelle Van Dyke, who succeeded Kabat as president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank-Western Michigan in June 2004, said there were spontaneous outbursts of applause and rounds of high-fives when the news of Kabat’s promotion was formally announced Tuesday. She said she could not be more pleased that her former boss, mentor and co-worker has ascended to the top spot in the corporation.

    “I’m just excited to see where he takes Fifth Third Bank. It’s certainly going to grow under his leadership,” Van Dyke remarked. “All 22 of my years with the bank have been under Kevin’s tutelage in some form or fashion, and I can truly say this is a well-deserved honor. I am confident in his ability to lead Fifth Third successfully in the future.”

    Van Dyke said Kabat led the West Michigan affiliate to “a new level of success.” She described him as a collaborative leader who likes to hear everybody’s opinions, but who at the same time is very clear in terms of the direction he wants to take the organization.

    “I would say what he brings to the table in terms of leadership at Fifth Third is strategic vision, clear direction, clear setting of expectations, and yet he’s very collaborative and caring about the people who work for him.”

    Kabat has been working out of the company’s headquarters in Cincinnati since he was promoted to the position of executive vice president of Fifth Third Bancorp in August 2004. He was named president of Fifth Third Bancorp in June 2006.

    Prior to serving as president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank-Western Michigan, he was vice chairman and president of Old Kent Financial Corp., which Fifth Third acquired in 2001. He joined Old Kent Bank & Trust in 1982.

    Another former executive from the West Michigan affiliate, Larry Magnesen, was promoted to chief marketing officer for Fifth Third Bancorp in early January. Magnesen previously directed all marketing efforts for the local affiliate. He relocated to Cincinnati in 2005 to serve as senior vice president for marketing.    

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