Credit Suisse to appoint Ulrich Körner as CEO

Credit Suisse is set to appoint Ulrich Körner as chief executive, succeeding Thomas Gottstein, whose departure will end one of the most tumultuous periods in the Swiss bank’s 166-year history.

The appointment of Körner, who heads the bank’s asset management division, is expected to be announced Wednesday morning when the bank reports its second-quarter results, according to four people with knowledge of the plans.

Christian Meissner, who headed the lender’s investment bank, is also considering leaving the group, having joined just over a year ago. But his departure will not be announced on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Körner, who is Swiss, joined Credit Suisse in March last year, having worked at UBS where he led the bank’s asset management business.

Gottstein took over as managing director of Credit Suisse in February 2020, just weeks before Switzerland was forced into a coronavirus lockdown. His departure was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The 58-year-old’s tenure as chief executive has been marred by a twin crisis surrounding the collapse of specialist finance firm Greensill Capital and family office Archegos within weeks of each other in the spring of last year . It has been rocked by a series of landmark scandals that sent the bank’s share price tumbling to its lowest level in three decades this month.

The Greensill implosion forced Credit Suisse to close a $10 billion investment fund suite, while the bank suffered a $5.5 billion trading loss in the Archegos crash.

Thomas Gottstein was appointed in 2020 after a highly embarrassing industrial espionage scandal prompted the abrupt departure of Tidjane Thiam © Reuters

Gottstein became chief executive after a highly embarrassing industrial espionage scandal prompted the abrupt departure of his predecessor Tidjane Thiam.

A surprise pick, Gottstein was widely seen as a pair of sure hands who would steady the ship after Thiam’s untimely ousting.

At the time, he ran the lender’s domestic business and had previously worked his way up the investment banking ladder.

During his tenure as CEO, Gottstein oversaw a complete overhaul of the management team. The bank is looking for a new chief financial officer, with David Mathers due to leave later this year.

The bank’s board was also reorganized, with Gottstein serving under three different chairmanships. He was appointed by Urs Rohner, who left last year after 10 years at the helm.

Rohner was replaced by former Lloyds Banking Group chief executive António Horta-Osório, who was forced to leave the bank after just nine months following disputes with fellow board members and having been caught breaking Covid-19 quarantine rules.

Former UBS executive Axel Lehmann took over as chairman in January, having joined the board a few months earlier.

Credit Suisse is set to report its third consecutive quarterly loss on Wednesday morning, having already issued a profit warning, its third of the year.

The bank is under pressure to cut costs after a decline in risk-taking last year and a pullback from some business lines following the Greensill and Archegos scandals. Gottstein described 2022 as a year of transition.

Credit Suisse declined to comment.

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