Credit Suisse picks outgoing Lloyds Bank CEO as chairman

António Horta-Osório shall succeed Urs Rohner (pictured) who will step down in 2021.
António Horta-Osório shall succeed Urs Rohner (pictured) who will step down in 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH (REUTERS) -  Credit Suisse said on Tuesday (Dec 1) it has proposed outgoing Lloyds Banking Group chief executive officer António Horta-Osório as its candidate to succeed Urs Rohner as chairman after the latter’s nearly 10 years in the job.

“António Horta-Osório shall succeed Urs Rohner who will step down in 2021 as previously announced upon reaching the statutory term of 12 years,” Switzerland’s second-biggest bank said in a statement, referring to Rohner’s boardroom stint, first as vice-chairman and since 2011 as chairman.

Despite a largely successful turnaround of Credit Suisse during his time, the previously expected departure of Rohner, born in 1959, comes with the bank under the cloud of an ongoing regulatory probe into an internal spying scandal.

News of Mr Osario’s selection came a day after a replacement was announced for the 56-year-old Portuguese native at Lloyds, with HSBC banker Charlie Nunn due to take over from him next year.

hareholders are due to vote on Horta-Osório’s appointment at next April’s annual general meeting.
Mr Horta-Osorio revived Lloyds in the aftermath of its 2008 government rescue during the financial crisis, with the bank returning to private ownership in 2017.

During his time at Lloyds Mr Horta-Osorio won plaudits for championing mental health issues at companies after he was signed off work for two months in 2011 for stress-induced insomnia and exhaustion.

But he was criticised by lawmakers for his high pay package and for the bank’s handling of a major fraud at its HBOS Reading branch that led to six people being jailed in 2017.

“I am extremely happy that we can propose a highly proven and recognized professional of the international banking business as my successor,” outgoing Credit Suisse chairman Rohner said in a statement.

During his 16 years at the bank, Mr Rohner saw Credit Suisse weather the financial crisis better than rival UBS as general counsel and chief operating officer, receiving a nod of approval from analysts and shareholders when he was earmarked for the chairman role in 2009.

The bank, however, also on Tuesday announced a legacy case from that time could as yet result in a roughly US$680 million (S$911 million) US residential mortgage backed security judgment.

Mr Rohner’s tenure as chairman, which began in 2011, has seen the bank weather a period of turbulence - from nearly US$1 billion in trading write-downs following US investment banker Brady Dougan’s exit as CEO in 2015, to an internal spying scandal which led to successor Tidjane Thiam’s abrupt departure in February of this year.

It also whittled down risky investment banking to focus more on stable wealth management.

The bank, during Mr Rohner’s time, contended with a raft of costly tax evasion settlements after the unwinding of Swiss bank secrecy.

More recently it was censured by Swiss financial market supervisor Finma over shortcomings in a series of high-profile corruption cases, as well as an ongoing probe into its culture and governance related to the spying affair.