March 2, 2018 / 12:22 AM / in a year

UPDATE 2-Wells Fargo says 4 directors to retire as board changes continue

(Adds details on directors, sales practices issues.)

March 1 (Reuters) - Four Wells Fargo & Co directors, including the longest-serving and least popular among shareholders, will retire at its annual meeting next month, the latest changes stemming from a sales scandal that erupted more than a year ago.

John Chen, Lloyd Dean, Enrique Hernandez and Federico Peña will leave the board on April 24, Wells Fargo said in a statement on Thursday.

Chen, Dean and Hernandez are the longest serving directors, while Hernandez and Peña received the least support from investors at last year’s annual meeting. The latter two had chaired board committees related to risk, finance or corporate responsibility during the time that Wells Fargo employees seeking to hit sales targets opened as many as 3.5 million accounts in customers’ names without permission.

The revelations about phony accounts and other abusive sales practices shattered Wells Fargo’s reputation as a well-run, highly profitable bank that managed to sell more products to customers than any of its major rivals.

Part of its reform effort has including a corporate governance makeover that began shortly after the scandal erupted in September 2016. Wells Fargo has since split the roles of chief executive and chair, installed a new chair, and replaced several other directors.

The bank pledged to further “refresh” the board last month as part of an agreement with the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Peña had been scheduled to retire in 2019 but will speed up that process. The board will nominate 12 of its current directors for election at the meeting, Wells Fargo said.

The news of board changes came on the same day Wells disclosed fresh problems in its wealth and investment management business that it uncovered after inquiries from government agencies. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Maju Samuel and Daniel Wallis)

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