Source AP ©

H&R Block Chairman resigns

H&R Block Inc.’s chairman, president and chief executive Mark Ernst had resigned.

The departure comes as H&R Block has been hurt by rising loan defaults at its subprime mortgage lending unit, Option One Mortgage Corp. Subprime loans are made to customers with poor credit histories.

Ernst will be replaced as chairman by Richard Breeden, a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission who now heads a fund that is a major investor in H&R Block. Breeden, who was appointed to the board in September, will serve in a nonexecutive capacity.

Alan Bennett, a former chief financial officer at the insurer Aetna Inc., was named interim CEO. Bennett had retired earlier this year from Aetna Inc. Bennett will serve as CEO until a permanent replacement can be found, though he said he does not want to be considered for the permanent job.

H&R Block has formed a search committee to find a new CEO.