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BMO Financial Group says it plans to appoint BCE Inc. chief executive George Cope as chair of the BMO board next year, after his retirement from the telecommunications company in January.

The Toronto-based banking group says it intends to appoint the long-time telecom industry executive upon his re-election as an independent director at BMO’s annual meeting in March 2020.

BMO chair Robert Prichard will retire from the board at that time after 20 years as an independent director and as chair since 2012.

Cope has been president and chief executive of BCE and Bell Canada since 2008, and will retire from the role on Jan. 5, 2020. He has served as an independent director on BMO’s board since 2006.

The chair of BMO’s governance and nominating committee Christine Edwards says the board unanimously endorsed Cope as its next chair after conducting a “careful and deliberative” succession process.

Cope says he is grateful for the board’s confidence and eager to work with his fellow directors.

“I am fully behind BMO’s strong management team and its plans to deliver on the bank’s strategic priorities,” said Cope in a statement.