People Moves

Credit Suisse Names New Chairman

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, London , 4 May 2021

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The former Lloyds Banking Group CEO is now chair of a Swiss bank battling to regain its financial footing after heavy losses in recent weeks. The head of Credit Suisse's risk committee has also decided not to seek re-election.

Last week, Credit Suisse's shareolders overwhelmingly voted (96.4 per cent) to approve former Lloyds Banking Group CEO, António Horta-Osório, as its new chairman. He will take over from Urs Rohner who, as previously announced, is stepping down after completing the statutory term of 12 years.

Rohner became chairman in 2011.

Horta-Osório, a Portuguese national, is taking the helm of a bank that has been hit by multi-billion losses connected to the failure of the Archegos hedge fund in New York and the UK-based Greensill supply-chain finance business.

The Zurich-listed lender also said last Friday at its AGM that Andreas Gottschling, head of the board’s risk committee, would not seek re-election.

Shareholders at Switzerland's second-largest bank also voted to approve Clare Brady and Blythe Masters as new members of the board of directors for a term until the end of the next AGM. The other members of the board proposed for re-election were confirmed in office for a term until the end of the next AGM, it said.

The banking group, which two weeks ago reported robust underlying earnings, has nevertheless been hit by its exposure to the Archegos hedge fund (an entity structured as a family office) and the Greensill business. Consequently, a number of senior figures have left the bank. The losses have dented the image of a bank that had been pushing forward in regions such as Asia and had been recovering its reputation after a Swiss spying scandal more than two years ago.

Shareholders also agreed to distribute a dividend of SFr0.10 per share for the financial year 2020 with half paid from the capital contribution reserves and 50 per cent from retained earnings.

“It is my firm ambition and determination, to listen into the organisation and to engage in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders in order to get a deep understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. We need to foster a culture that reinforces the importance of risk management, ensures that we have the right incentives in place, including on remuneration, and focus on personal responsibility and accountability," Horta-Osório said.

"A culture where every single employee can be proud of what we stand for and how we act. The board and I will do this together with the management team led by Thomas Gottstein [CEO]. Thomas has the board’s confidence and I am looking forward to working with him and the executive team. A tough period and hard decisions lay ahead of us. There are no miracle quick fixes nor such things as infallibility. You have my personal commitment that I will work relentlessly with the board and the management team to take on the challenges that lie ahead of us," he added.

During Horta-Osório's tenure as CEO at Lloyds, the UK bank - which had been bailed out by the UK government amid the 2008 financial crash - returned to full private ownership.

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