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Nestlé head re-elected to Credit Suisse board

All smiles - Brabeck remains a Credit Suisse director Keystone

Shareholders of the Credit Suisse Group have re-elected Nestlé CEO and board chairman Peter Brabeck to their own board, despite vocal minority opposition.

Brabeck received 91 per cent of the votes at Credit Suisse’s annual general meeting (AGM), even though it was argued that he already had too many mandates to do a proper job at the bank.

However, Credit Suisse board chairman Walter Kielholz confirmed at the AGM that Brabeck would relinquish his role as vice-chairman, in what is seen by some as a partial concession to his critics.

Brabeck reportedly took the decision last week following criticism from shareholders, including Ethos, a foundation representing Swiss pension funds.

Earlier this month, Ethos received much more substantial support (36 per cent) for a move to prevent the Nestlé board allowing Brabeck to combine his existing role as CEO with a “double mandate” as the company’s new board chairman.

It argued that the foundation was opposed to putting too much power in one man’s hands, and that outgoing chairman Rainer Gut had had five years to find a suitable successor.

Also opposed by Ethos but re-elected to the Credit Suisse board were Thomas Bechtler, head of his family holding company, Hesta, and Ernst Tanner of the chocolate maker, Lindt and Sprüngli.

Multi mandates

Ethos claims Bechtler has 30 other board mandates and Tanner is CEO and president of the board of Lindt, and is a director of the Swatch Group.

Kielholz countered the arguments, saying it was “very important…to have members with active management experience in large and medium-sized companies.”

He added that “this gives them the necessary credibility with management when it comes to making sound decisions on management issues and to applying their experience.”

Kielholz also ruled out any mergers in his speech: “We are not interested in a cross-border merger with another big banking concern,” he said.

“We do not believe that an international retail banking strategy should be a priority for Credit Suisse Group at this time. Any rumours to this effect are entirely unfounded.”

swissinfo with agencies

Founded in 1856, Credit Suisse is Switzerland’s second largest bank after UBS.
Turnover for the bank last year was SFr54 billion ($45 billion) and the bank reported a profit of SFr5.6 billion.
The bank is active in 50 countries and employs 60,000 people around the world.

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