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Hüppi quits Zurich Group chairmanship

Hüppi says Zurich's new bosses need to be freed from the "the ongoing controversy surrounding me"


Rolf Hüppi, the embattled head of Zurich Financial Services, has announced his resignation, after months of pressure from investors unhappy with his stewardship.

As head of Europe's third largest insurer, Hüppi has come under fire for his expansionary strategy, and his dual role as chairman and CEO.

Hüppi announced earlier this year that he would step down as CEO, but hold on to his post as chairman.

In a statement on Friday, Hüppi said his resignation, as chairman, would become effective following the appointment of a new CEO.

"I have informed the board of directors that I consider it desirable and important that the new leadership of our group can be established unencumbered by the ongoing public controversy surrounding me," Hüppi said in a statement.

The company also announced on Friday that Zurich would appoint current vice-chairman Lodewijk van Wachem as its new chairman.

There was no news about a new CEO.

Strong track record

Hüppi joined the company in 1963, and since becoming CEO in 1991, helped transform the medium-sized firm into a global financial services group.

A string of acquisitions boosted the company's fortunes, until last year when it ended its expansionary drive with the sale of a US fund manager to Deutsche Bank.

Investors were also faced a series of profit warnings issued last year, revelations of internal disputes, and a number of ill-fated internet ventures.

The share price in the company has fallen over 50 per cent in the last twelve months, and at the close of trading on Friday stood at SFr395 ($239).

Swissinfo with agencies

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