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Credit Suisse chairman hopeful to see out term

Rohner speaking at a news conference last October, following the discovery that the Credit Suisse management spied on former executives including wealth manager Iqbal Kahn.   (Keystone/Ennio Leanza)

The chairman of the Credit Suisse bank says he does not expect to be voted out of office before his term ends next year following the departure of the bank’s CEO on Friday amid a surveillance scandal.

Urs Rohner says he has received “clear responses” from shareholders that they back the company board policy to accept CEO Tidjane Thiam decision to step down.

+ Shock over resignation of Credit Suisse CEO

However, observers say it remains to be seen whether the annual shareholders meeting at the end of March will support Rohner who wants to stay in his post until 2021. However, some international shareholders publicly called tor the chairman to step down.

“You can never be certain. But I have no indication that my re-election could be in danger,” Rohner is quoted as saying.

In an interview with the Schweiz am Wochenende weekly, Rohner said members of the Credit Suisse management had made “serious mistakes” by ordering the surveillance of other executives.

“Ultimately, we [the board] agreed that the reputation of the bank has suffered and that it is time for Tidjan Thiam to step down now,” Rohner is quoted as saying.

He added that the decision to let Thiam go was not a knee-jerk reaction but that the CEO had overall responsibility for his management team, although he was involved in the surveillance policy himself.

Switzerland’s second-largest bank hopes Thiam’s exit will put an end to a scandal that hit its reputation and shocked the country’s financial community over the past few weeks.

He said the way forward was to have a transparent examination of the facts that led to the scandal and it needed “openness” and “constant dialogue with all stakeholders.”

Asked about the choice of the new CEO, Rohner said Thomas Gottstein was “not appointed because of his passport but because of his expertise in banking and his leadership qualities.”

Gottstein is the first Swiss citizen to run Credit Suisse in almost 20 years.

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