Credit Suisse chairman resigns

Following the resignation of António Horta-Osório, the Swiss bank appoints Axel P. Lehmann as new chairman.

Switzerland-headquartered bank, Credit Suisse, today (January 17) announced the appointment of Axel P. Lehmann (pictured) as its new chairman, effective immediately. He will be put forward for election as chairman at the bank’s upcoming AGM, to be held on April 29, 2022.

The former UBS Group chief operating officer succeeds António Horta-Osório, following his resignation, which comes on the back of an investigation commissioned by the bank’s Board of Directors.

Media reports allege a conscious evasion of Covid-19 quarantine rules as being behind the investigation and Horta-Osório’s subsequent departure.

In the bank’s announcement, Horta-Osório said, “I regret that a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally. I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time.”

A British-Portuguese national, Horta-Osório had been appointed on 30 April 2021 as group chairman and spent his eight-and-a-half-month tenure in the post conducting a global review of the business, before announcing plans to reshape the bank’s strategy at its Investor Day summit on November 04, 2021.

He sought to overhaul the bank’s strategic direction following several reputational hits and increased regulatory scrutiny over recent months, including severe losses tied to the collapse of Archegos Capital Management, as well as Australian-British financial services firm, Greensill Capital.

In October 2021, Credit Suisse agreed to pay approximately $475 million to UK and US authorities following a corruption scandal involving fraudulently misleading investors to contribute to the development of Mozambique’s tuna fishing industry through “tuna-bonds”.

Horta-Osório’s announced plans included the implementation of a new organisational structure, comprising four divisions (Wealth Management, Investment Bank, Swiss Bank and Asset Management), which would be further developed across four core regions (Switzerland, EMEA, APAC, Americas). The strategy outlined an increase in investment across the Wealth Management division of 25% through to 2024,  through the deployment of CHF 3 billion ($3.29 billion).

With regards to Asia-Pacific, the bank’s strategy outlined capturing growth opportunity through investment in its Mainland China franchise, as well as building on its Singapore and Hong Kong hubs, and further leveraging investment, financing, advisory and capital markets solutions.

Prior to joining Credit Suisse and taking residence in Switzerland, Horta-Osório served as group chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group for a decade. He started his career at Citigroup in Portugal and also held positions at Goldman Sachs in New York and Grupo Santander in Portugal, Brazil, Spain and the UK.

Lehmann, who is a Swiss citizen, was elected as a member of the Board of Directors and chair of the Risk Committee at the bank's Extraordinary General Meeting held on October 1, 2021. He commenced his career at Zurich Insurance Group where he served for nearly two decades, nearly 14 of which as a member of the Group Executive Committee in a number of roles.

Credit Suisse declined to comment in relation to the news.

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