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(Bloomberg) -- Boris Collardi unexpectedly resigned as chief executive officer of Julius Baer Group Ltd. to become a partner at rival Pictet Group, triggering the search for a long-term successor. He will be replaced for now by Deputy CEO Bernhard Hodler.

Collardi, 43, will join closely held Pictet as co-head of its global wealth management group as of mid-2018, the Zurich-based bank and Pictet said in separate statements on Monday. Julius Baer said the board will start “an evaluation process for the long-term leadership of the group.”

The shares dropped as much as 5 percent in early Zurich trading.

To read a Gadfly column on Collardi’s departure, click here.

Under Collardi, the bank has more than doubled its assets under management from 150 billion francs ($153 billion) to 393 billion francs, in part through acquisitions and the recruitment of relationship managers.The Swiss bank has also focused on adding roles in Asia, and the CEO said in September that he expects the region to account for about a third of its business in the next five years. A 6 percent increase in net new money gave the bank what Collardi said was its “best half-year ever.”

“No other CEO from a wealth management bank has sold the business case as good as him,” said Andreas Brun, an analyst at Mirabaud Securities in Zurich. “He’s the best salesman a bank could wish for."

Collardi was 34 when he became CEO of the country’s third-largest publicly-traded wealth manager. He vaulted to the top on the back of two stints in Singapore and promotions at Credit Suisse Group AG. He used his experience of living and working in Asia to advance the transformation of Julius Baer from a bank focused on western Europe to a network of businesses spanning Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Since 2012, the bank acquired the international operations of Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the European operations of Bank Leumi Le-Israel BM. It also bought the Luxembourg arm of Commerzbank AG and expanded its majority stake in Milan-based asset manager Kairos Investment Management SpA. While he made no secret of his desire to further expand holdings, the bank has been retaining capital to comply with tougher post-crisis rules, limiting funding available for purchases.

Pictet said Collardi will join its board of partners and will run the Geneva-based company’s global wealth management business alongside Remy Best. Collardi is rare example of an outsider joining the senior ranks at Pictet, which reported 462 billion francs in assets under management at the end of 2016.

Hodler, who is also the bank’s chief risk officer, has been a member of Julius Baer’s executive team since 1998, according to the statement.

“Over the last 10 years we have been growing substantially -- that puts us in a good position going forward," Hodler said in a call with journalists.

(Adds share price, background on Baer from third paragraph.)

--With assistance from Ross Larsen

To contact the reporters on this story: Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net, Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, Cindy Roberts, Christian Baumgaertel

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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