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Cendant Hires Banker for Finance Post

From Bloomberg News

Cendant Corp. named a Merrill Lynch & Co. investment banker to a high financial post Tuesday to help restore investor confidence, prompting a surge in trading of the battered direct-marketing company’s stock.

Cendant shares rose as much as 9% after it announced the hiring of David M. Johnson, who helped take a predecessor company public in 1992, as executive vice president in charge of finance. Cendant shares jumped $1.06 to close at $24.38 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The move by Chief Executive Henry Silverman was intended to help Cendant--which was formed in last year’s merger of HFS Inc. and CUC International Inc.--recover from accounting “irregularities.” Cendant shares plunged after the company said it would restate 1997 earnings as a result of the problem, announced April 15.

Along with the hiring of Johnson, the owner of brands such as Avis car rentals and Howard Johnson promoted two executives from HFS, Scott E. Forbes and Samuel L. Katz. All will report to Michael P. Monaco, Cendant’s vice chairman and chief financial officer.

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Forbes, a senior vice president of finance, was promoted to executive vice president and chief accounting officer, Cendant said.

Katz was named an executive vice president of strategic development. Katz, who played a role in past and pending purchases worth more than $22 billion, will be responsible for finding acquisitions.

Silverman’s next target is Miami-based insurer American Bankers Insurance Group Inc., for which Cendant is paying $3.1 billion, about half of it in stock.


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