Sallie Mae CEO Resigns

WASHINGTON (AP) – SLM Corp., the student lender commonly known as Sallie Mae, on Tuesday said Thomas J. Fitzpatrick, vice chairman and chief executive, is resigning to pursue other interests and being replaced by the company's chief financial officer.

Over the next few weeks, Fitzpatrick, 58, will serve the company in an advisory role to facilitate the transition, according to a company release. C.E. Andrews, 55, Sallie Mae's executive vice president and CFO, will replace Fitzpatrick.

Sallie Mae's board thanked Fitzpatrick for his “many years of leadership and exemplary service” and said he was one of the architects of its transformation from a government-sponsored secondary market to a diversified education-finance company.

SLM last month agreed to be sold to private-equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co. and three other investors in a $25 billion deal. “The Sallie Mae Board sought and received assurances from the Flowers group that Fitzpatrick's departure would not impact their plans to proceed with the acquisition,” according to a release.

J. Christopher Flowers, chairman of New York-based J.C. Flowers, said he supports Fitzpatrick's decision to step down and looks forward to working with Andrews “as we work toward finalizing our acquisition of the company.”

SLM's board and Fitzpatrick agreed that “now is the right time change leadership,” said Tom Joyce, a spokesman for the Reston, Va.-based company. He added that there was no truth to a published report that Flowers has asked for Fitzpatrick's resignation.

The nation's largest student lender also last month disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating trading in SLM's stock related to the planned buyout. That action is separate from a probe of sales of company stock that SLM Chairman Albert L. Lord made a few days before the Bush administration's 2008 budget proposal, which contained cuts in student-loan subsidies that could hamper Sallie Mae's profits, was made public.

Shares of SLM added 34 cents to $55.70 in Tuesday's after-hours trading. In the regular session it rose 6 cents to $55.36.