H&R Block ended an eight-month search to fill its president and chief executive posts as the tax-prep giant, headquartered here, appointed former McDonald’s Corp. executive Russ Smyth to those positions.Smyth, who formerly served as president of McDonald’s Europe, succeeds Alan Bennett, who has served as interim CEO since November 2007. Smyth was scheduled to assume the Block helm August 1.

Block’s former chairman and CEO, Mark Ernst, resigned last November after the company incurred losses of roughly $737 million — largely from its troubled Option One mortgage-lending business, a division that Block divested in March. An earlier agreement to sell the hemorrhaging unit to Cerberus Capital Management had fallen through as a result of the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

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