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Power battle Credit Suisse CEO surprises markets with shock resignation

Tidjane Thiam

Where to now for Thiam?

(© Keystone / Ennio Leanza)

Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam has resigned from his post following a highly damaging spying scandal that has rocked Switzerland’s second largest bank. Thiam’s departure is nevertheless a surprise as most media expected chairman Urs Rohner to depart.

Thiam will leave the bank on February 14 when he will be replaced by Thomas Gottstein, who is currently CEO of Credit Suisse’s Swiss operations.

The news of Thiam’s departure may not please major shareholders who had been pushing for the CEO to remain. According to widespread media reports, Thiam and Rohner had been locked in a high stakes struggle for supremacy for several weeks.

Their fallout was triggered by revelations that former executives at the bank had been subjected to controversial surveillance tactics. Swiss financial supervisor FINMA is conducting its own investigation into the affair.

It was expected that one of the powerful duo would have to go, but most of the pressure appeared to be on the chairman, Rohner.

Statements

“Tidjane has made an enormous contribution toCredit Suisse since he joined us in 2015. It is to his credit that Credit Suisse is standing on a very solid foundation and has returned successfully to profit. The Board of Directors and I wish Tidjane all the best for his future endeavors,” said Rohner in a statement.

“I will be an enthusiastic supporter of my colleagues, as they continue to build momentum in the business. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all at Credit Suisse for their support in my work. I will be forever grateful,” said Thiam.

“I had no knowledge of the observation of two former colleagues. It undoubtedly disturbed Credit Suisse and caused anxiety and hurt. I regret that this happened and it should never have taken place,” he added.

Credit Suisse's board said Chairman Urs Rohner had backing to complete his term that runs until April 2021.

A spokesman for Switzerland's market supervisor FINMA said it was important that calm was restored to the bank. It said it was continuing its investigations into the scandal.

Gottstein, Credit Suisse’s incoming chief executive, told Reuters on Friday that he planned to stick Switzerland’s second-biggest bank on a growth offensive following his predecessor's cost-cutting exercise.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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