Boardroom showdown: Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam resigns amid spying scandal

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam has lost the battle in the boardroom, resigning amid a power struggle which followed a spying scandal at the bank. Mr Thiam who had attempted to overhaul the Swiss bank, including increased focus on Mr Khan's wealth management division, will leave on 14 February and is being replaced by Thomas Gottstein, who is head of the bank's Swiss business. Mr Gottstein will be the first Swiss national to head the bank since Lukas Mühlemann stepped down in 2002. The bank’s board announced it had “unanimously accepted” Mr Thiam’s resignation on Friday morning. The Credit Suisse board backed chairman Urs Rohner for leading it commendably during a turbulent time. According to a number of reports, Thiam and Rohner had been locked in a high stakes struggle for supremacy for several weeks. The fallout was triggered by revelations that former executives at the bank had been subjected to controversial surveillance tactics. Swiss financial supervisor Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) is conducting its own investigation into the affair. In a statement, Mr Thiam said: "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." Thiam is stepping down after five years at the Swiss bank. The surveillance scandal initially came to light in September when a probe found the bank's former chief operating officer, Pierre-Olivier Bouée, had hired private detectives to track its former head of wealth management, Iqbal Khan. Credit Suisse later revealed that its former human resources head, Peter Goerke had also been followed. This prompted an investigation by FINMA. The news of Thiam’s departure has rattled major shareholders that include Harris Associates, who had been pushing for the CEO to remain and for Mr Rohner to go. However, the bank's board chose to support the chief executive. Serverin Schwan, Credit Suisse's lead independent director, said: "After careful deliberations, the board has been unanimous in its actions, as well as in reaffirming its full support for the chairman to complete his term until April 2021." Who are Credit Suisse? Credit Suisse Group AG is a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company founded in 1856 and based in Switzerland. The group serves their clients through three regionally focused divisions: Swiss Universal Bank, International Wealth Management and Asia Pacific. These regional businesses are supported by two other divisions specialising in investment banking capabilities: Global Markets and Investment Banking & Capital Markets. Headquartered in Zürich, it maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world and is one of the nine global "Bulge Bracket" banks. Mr Thiam - the man, the leader,the scapegoat Born into a prominent political family in the Ivory Coast, Thiam holds dual Ivorian and French citizenship. He studied advanced mathematics and physics in France before joining the management consultants McKinsey & Company in 1986, where he worked until 1994. From 1994 to 1999 he worked in the Ivory Coast first as chief executive of the National Bureau for Technical Studies (BNETD). He then served as Ivory Coast's Minister of Planning and Development until the 1999 Ivorian coup d'état. He resumed a private sector career and rejoined McKinsey in Paris from 2000 to 2002, then worked as a senior executive for Aviva. Thiam, who was hired by Rohner in 2015, had won the shareholders support for stabilising the bank by pivoting away from fraught trading operations to its wealth management arm. While costs had been slashed and the balance sheet strengthened, Credit Suisse stock lost almost half its value since he took over.

The shock exit of Thiam puts the firm in a place of uncertainty with major US and UK investors who would have preferred for him to stay. #CreditSuisse #TidjaneThiam #Investment #banking