Debt buyer Encore Capital Group announced Wednesday that its board of directors has elected Ken Vecchione, 58, to succeed Brandon Black as chief executive officer. 

Vecchione will serve as president through May 31 while Black continues serving as CEO, at which Black plans to remain available to the board and management on a consulting basis.

Last year, Black shared with the board of directors his wish to explore a "new phase in his career" after more than 15 years at Encore. 

Vecchione has held a number of senior positions at large financial services companies - including chief operating officer of Western Alliance Bancorporation, chief financial officer of Apollo Global Management LLC and chief financial officer of AT&T Universal Card Services. 

Vecchione served for three years as vice chairman and chief financial officer of MBNA Corp. At the time, MBNA was the world's largest independent credit card lender.

"Encore is well positioned to continue delivering shareholder value, given its efficient operating platform, low-cost capital and emphasis on analytics in understanding financially distressed consumer behavior," Vecchione said.

George Lund, executive chairman of Encore's board of directors, added, "Ken Vecchione is a leader with more than 35 years of experience and relationships in senior management roles at large, publicly traded banking and credit card companies. With Ken's deep and diverse background in operations, corporate strategy, risk management and regulatory affairs, we found the ideal chief executive officer to drive Encore's future success.

"Encore has been incredibly fortunate to have had Brandon Black at the helm for the last eight years," Lund said. "During his tenure, the company built significant cost and operational advantages, expanded into new asset classes and made acquisitions that established Encore as the leading debt management and recovery solutions provider. Just as important, through the industry's first Consumer Bill of Rights, Encore made bold and meaningful commitments to treat consumers with the respect they deserve."

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