After sudden CEO transition, New York Community shakes up board

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New York Community Bancorp’s leadership shuffle is stretching into the boardroom.

Less than a week after longtime Chief Financial Officer Thomas Cangemi abruptly took over as president and CEO, the Westbury, N.Y., company on Wednesday announced that longtime board member Michael Levine would become board chairman.

Levine, who was 75 when the company filed its most recent proxy statement in April, succeeds Dominick Ciampa, who became chairman in 2010 when New York Community separated the roles of chairman and CEO.

Ciampa, who was 86 at the time of the proxy filing, will remain a director, the company said.

Levine, a certified public accountant and president of Norse Realty Group on Long Island, joined New York Community’s board in 2004 and has served as the company’s lead independent director since 2014. He also chaired the nominating and corporate governance and risk assessment committees.

As part of the switch, Hanif “Wally” Dahya will assume the lead independent director position. Dahya, the CEO of a private investment firm called The Y Company, joined the board in 2007 and serves on the audit, nominating and corporate governance and risk assessment committees.

In a news release, Cangemi said the change “marks the next step in the evolution of the company’s strong corporate governance practices.” A bank spokesman did not elaborate on the board’s decision or provide context about the board’s existing corporate governance practices.

The $54.9 billion-asset company, known for its multifamily lending specialty, took some industry observers by surprise last week when it announced the abrupt retirement of longtime President and CEO Joseph Ficalora. The timing of the change — which was announced Dec. 28 and took effect three days later — was unusually short and neither the board nor Ficalora, 74, had previously indicated that Ficalora’s retirement was imminent.

Cangemi said in a news release last week that he wanted to “evolve” the company’s business model, which has relied on higher-cost deposits and a loan portfolio that’s dominated by multifamily loans. Some analysts think that means New York Community could restructure its depositing funding base, perhaps by way of acquisitions, and expand into new business lines.

Cangemi is expected to provide details about the future of the company’s business model during New York Community’s fourth-quarter earnings call later this month.

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