EUROPE - Walter Kielholz is to take the helm at Credit Suisse Group (CSG) after the firm ousted chairman and chief executive Lukas Mühlemann following a catalogue of costly errors.
Kielholz - who is currently chief executive officer of Swiss Re and vice-chairman of CSG’s Board of Directors - takes up his new position on January 1, 2003.
Mühlemann buckled under shareholder pressure to split his dual role back in July and promised to quit as chairman from next year. His intention was to focus solely on his role as CEO. But a series of blunders - ending with CSG’s profits plummeting nearly 50% this year - will see him leave one of Europe’s biggest bank by the end of the year.
In a statement Mühlemann said: The decision to step down as both chairman and CEO by the end of this year has not been an easy one for me to make. I care deeply about Credit Suisse Group and the people who work here. By taking this step, I hope to better position Credit Suisse Group for future success by removing any questions surrounding my leadership of the company.
According to reports, Mühlemann was behind a series of strategic errors including the CHF14.3bn acquisition of insurance outfit Winterthur and investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette for a further US$11.5bn. He also came in for much criticism over his role as board director for the now defunct airline Swissair.
In addition, CSG said that Oswald Grübel, CEO of Credit Suisse Financial Services, and John Mack, CEO of Credit Suisse First Boston, will also become co-CEOs of CSG from the beginning of 2003. At the same time, Hans-Ulrich Doerig, vice-chairman of CSG’s executive board, will assume responsibility for its Corporate Centre.
Kielholz praised Mühlemann for his “decisive role in reshaping [CSG], particularly in establishing a strong presence in the areas of asset management and investment banking.”
My immediate priority will be to address the challenges created by the difficult market environment facing the entire financial services industry, so that we can move forward to realise the company's full potential, he added.
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