(Bloomberg) — Credit Suisse Group AG named Prudential Plc’s Tidjane Thiam to replace Brady Dougan as chief executive officer as the bank grapples with declining profitability at the securities unit and weakened capital.
Shares rose as much as 9.1 percent, the most in a month, and were 7.4 percent higher at 11:08 a.m. in Zurich trading after Credit Suisse said Tuesday that Dougan will step down at the end of June. In a separate statement, Prudential said a successor to Thiam has been found and will be named once the regulatory approval process has been completed.
Dougan, 55, an American who has led Credit Suisse since 2007, has contended with pressure to shift strategy away from investment banking as the company’s stock posted one of the worst performances among European banks this year. The switch puts an Ivory Coast-born French national, who has spent the past decade running insurance businesses, atop Switzerland’s second- biggest lender.
“Thiam will bring some fresh air to Credit Suisse, albeit without the banking background,” said Andreas Venditti, a banking analyst at Vontobel in Zurich. “Maybe cutting the investment bank will become easier.”
Thiam, 52, has run Britain’s largest insurer by market value since 2009, almost tripling its stock price while successfully focusing on Asia to boost profit. Prudential’s Mike Wells, the head of its U.S. Jackson National Life unit, will succeed Thiam this year, Sky News said.
Thiam’s “extensive international experience, including in wealth and asset management and in the successful development of new markets, provides a firm foundation for leading Credit Suisse,” Chairman Urs Rohner said in the statement. “As CEO, he led Prudential to great success in challenging times.”
Thiam is experienced in Asia, a key market for Credit Suisse, said Alevizos Alevizakos, a London-based analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
Thiam joined Prudential from U.K. insurer Aviva Plc, where he led the European unit. In 2012, he turned down an offer to become head of the World Bank’s private investment arm, despite a personal request from U.S. President Barack Obama’s then-chief of staff, Jacob Lew, the Telegraph reported at the time. Lew is now Treasury secretary.
Thiam worked for management consultant McKinsey & Co. from 1986 to 1994, focusing on insurers and banks. From 1994 to 1998, he was head of the National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development in the Ivory Coast. He was appointed minister of planning and development before leaving the country after the December 1999 military coup.
Dougan, a 25-year veteran of Credit Suisse and the first American to serve as its sole CEO, was one of the few leaders of a global bank to survive the financial crisis and the scandals that followed. On Feb. 26, Standard Chartered Plc named Bill Winters to replace Peter Sands, who led the U.K. firm through the turmoil.
While Dougan’s down-to-earth manner and knowledge of markets won him the trust of some shareholders, some Swiss media and retail investors repeatedly questioned his loyalties as an American and criticized his pay packages and the fact that he doesn’t speak German. Still, Dougan kept his post while UBS Group AG, Switzerland’s biggest bank, had four CEOs in the same period and needed a state bailout. Sergio Ermotti has led Zurich-based UBS since September 2011.