Thiam Tidjane Exits Credit Suisse

Author:Ms Edna Twumwaa Frimpong

On February 7, 2020, Credit Suisse Group AG announced that CEO Tidjane Thiam has resigned, effective Feb. 14, 2020. The company appointed Thomas Gottstein, Head of Unit Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG, as his successor and their current Head of Institutional Relations, Andre Helfelstein as Gottstein's replacement.

The announcement came amid allegations that Credit Suisse spied on former board members, a scandal that led to the departure of Pierre-Olivier Bouée, its Chief Operating Officer in October 2019.

Background and timeline

In March 2015, Credit Suisse recruited Cote d'Ivoire native Tidjane Thiam from Prudential plc. He replaced Brady Dougan as the company's Chief Executive. The market responded favorably to the news and the company's share price increased significantly.

From the strategy Thiam had, it was evident that he wanted to refocus the bank on wealth management. In October 2015, Thiam promoted Iqbal Khan to the management board in charge of International Wealth Management. Khan had a steady rise in the company giving him the reputation as the "crown prince" to succeed Thiam in the near future.

The company nevertheless had a share price slide in November 2017 which led the CEO to take charge and begin a restructuring initiative. Following this initiative, the company's share price rose again, approaching an almost two-year high.

The relationship decline

However, in January 2019, Thiam and Khan, who had become residential neighbors, got into an altercation at a party held in Thiam's home. Though this was not public knowledge, the altercation led to Khan complaining to the company's board which led to a fall out between the two men.

In February that same year, Khan was passed over in a restructuring/reorganization in the company that saw two of his colleagues promoted. In a very interesting move, Khan resigned from Credit Suisse to join rival UBS in July 2019, with a start date in October 1, 2019. Two months later, Zurich prosecutors launched criminal investigation after Khan complained that he was being threatened by unidentified people.

Speculations were that Credit Suisse had decided to keep tabs on Khan after he agreed to join UBS, hoping to prevent him from poaching private bankers. Within days, Credit Suisse's board began their own inquiry into the surveillance. Thiam and Urs Rohner, Chairman of the Board, vowed that the "truth will emerge."

Outspoken U.S. investor David Herro, one of Credit Suisse's biggest shareholders, says it would be "damaging" to expel any senior manager over the potential shadowing of Khan. Former Credit Suisse and UBS chief...

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