Half of European banks have swapped CEOs in the past two years

(Bloomberg) –

The upheavals in the European banking sector are not slackening.

On Monday, Barclays Plc became the 10th major lender since late 2019 to replace its chief executive when it appointed CS Venkatakrishnan as successor to Jes Staley, who unexpectedly resigned. UniCredit SpA, Danske Bank A / S and Commerzbank AG are among other companies whose CEOs have left under a cloud.

Overall, half of the CEOs of Europe’s top 20 listed banks have been in their jobs for two years or less. The other 10 bank bosses have been in their positions for more than six and a half years on average, according to Bloomberg calculations based on documents filed by the companies.

More than a decade after the financial crisis exposed flawed business models and deep cultural failures, European banks are still grappling with poor governance and slim profits. The top job has become increasingly precarious, with CEOs held to higher standards by regulators and investors.

“The age of CEOs of banks in their headquarters for a decade or more is coming to an end,” said Dieter Hein, banking analyst at Fairesearch / Alphavalue, based near Frankfurt. “The demands on CEOs have increased. They must be role models and they are in a position similar to that of politicians.

Here is a summary of some of the leadership changes in European banks over the past two years:

  • Staley is immediately withdrawing from Barclays as part of a UK regulatory investigation into how he characterized past ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
  • Less than two years after taking office, Danske Bank replaced its CEO in April after being involved in a Dutch money laundering investigation.
  • Andrea Orcel replaced Jean Pierre Mustier as CEO of UniCredit in April after clashing with its board’s strategy, including its opposition to national takeovers.
  • Manfred Knof took over as Commerzbank in January after multiple reboots in his predecessor’s strategy failed to put the German lender on the path to adequate profitability.
  • HSBC Holdings Plc appointed interim CEO Noel Quinn as its permanent boss in March 2020 after struggling to find an external candidate after his predecessor John Flint was ousted due to doubts he was up to the job. task.
  • Credit Suisse Group AG saw Tidjane Thiam resign as CEO in February last year after the company was rocked by cases of espionage. Thomas Gottstein, his successor, has been through a rough patch this year after bad business exposed deficits in his risk-taking culture.

Some changes of direction have been more fluid. Last November, UBS Group AG appointed Ralph Hamers to replace Sergio Ermotti, one of Europe’s oldest bank CEOs. The Swiss lender described the move as a chance to strengthen its strategy rather than tear it up.

Despite this, Hamers – who led the Dutch lender for almost seven years – has faced questions about his role in ING’s past failures to comply with anti-money laundering rules. ING Groep NV has found a successor within its own ranks.

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