Credit Suisse expected to announce Koerner as CEO, latest change at the helm – sources


July 26 (Reuters) – Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S) is expected to announce Ulrich Koerner as its new chief executive, the latest managerial turnover at the Swiss bank struggling to recover from a string of scandals, two sources familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

Pressure on current CEO Thomas Gottstein has been mounting for months over major scandals and losses incurred during his two-year tenure that have hammered stocks and angered investors. In recent months, some investors had called for Gottstein to be replaced, but the bank resisted.

Another senior executive, Christian Meissner, head of the lender’s investment bank, also plans to leave the group, the Financial Times reported.

One of the sources said the bank was expected to announce the change in CEO on Wednesday, along with its quarterly results.

Credit Suisse declined to comment. Meissner did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

When Gottstein took over in 2020, he promised a “clean slate” for the bank, which was recovering from an internal espionage scandal that cost his predecessor Tidjane Thiam his job.

Since Thiam left in February 2020, the stock has fallen nearly 60% and problems at the bank have only escalated. In 2021, the bank announced a loss of $5.5 billion due to the unraveling of US investment firm Archegos and the collapse of $10 billion in supply chain finance funds. The events prompted the resignation of management, investigations and a capital increase, followed by further losses and new lawsuits. 

Credit Suisse brought in Koerner in April 2021 to lead its newly segregated asset management division following the collapse of the $10 billion worth of supply chain finance funds linked to insolvent financier Greensill Capital.

Koerner returned to Credit Suisse from arch-rival UBS, where he most recently served as advisor to the CEO from 2019 to 2020. He led UBS Asset Management from 2014 to 2019. Koerner was previously a senior executive at Credit Suisse Financial Services and led its Swiss affairs. 

Koerner, who previously worked for McKinsey, is considered a restructuring expert in Switzerland.

Nevertheless, the appointment would follow other major European banks that lacked diversity at the top. The 25 largest banks by assets have seen 22 changes in chief executive and chairmanship in the past two years, according to a Reuters assessment of senior positions in the industry. Twenty-one of those 22 jobs went to men. 

This spring, Credit Suisse chairman Axel Lehmann reiterated his support for Gottstein after Artisan Partners, the bank’s ninth largest shareholder, publicly called for Gottstein’s replacement. 

“I fully support him because he is good,” Lehmann said in a CNBC interview at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. He dismissed as “rumors and speculations” that Gottstein might be on his way.

The WSJ previously reported that Gottstein may be replaced soon, days after the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported that the bank is considering further cost cuts. 

Reporting by Oliver Hirt in Zurich, Shivam Patel in Bengaluru and Elisa Martinuzzi in London; Additional writing by Megan Davies; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Richard Pullin

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