The vice-chair of Credit Suisse is to leave the Swiss bank, just weeks after some shareholders said they would attempt to block his re-election to the board if he stood again.
Severin Schwan, who is also chief executive of pharma group Roche, has been on the bank’s board since 2014 and while it has dealt with a succession of scandals, including with family office Archegos and supply chain finance group Greensill Capital.
Several investors told the Financial Times last month they had concerns about Schwan’s ability to be vice-chair at the bank while leading Roche, and some said they would vote against his re-election to the board.
Credit Suisse said on Monday that Schwan would depart alongside fellow directors Kai Nargolwala and Juan Colombas in a shake-up of directors. Colombas had only been on the board since last year.
“Severin and Kai, in particular, deserve the highest recognition for having helped steer the company through some challenging periods with commitment, perseverance and dedication,” said Axel Lehmann, Credit Suisse’s recently appointed chair.
The trio will be replaced by former UniCredit chief financial officer Mirko Bianchi, LSE professor Keyu Jin and former Wells Fargo chief risk officer Amanda Norton. Christian Gellerstad, who is already a director, will become vice-chair.
The board shake-up comes two months after Lehmann became chair, taking over from António Horta-Osório, who resigned in January after breaching Covid quarantine rules.
Credit Suisse shares are down more than 70 per cent since Schwan joined the board in 2014.
Sources told the FT last month that Schwan had intended to leave at the bank’s annual meeting in April but he was asked by other board members to reconsider his departure to maintain stability under Lehmann, who only joined the board in October.
Yet several shareholders indicated in recent weeks that they would vote against his re-election as they had serious concerns about his ability to run one of the world’s largest drugmakers while also acting as the bank’s vice-chair, which involves deputising for the chair and advising them.
Nargolwala had served on the board since 2013, having previously been a Credit Suisse executive, and chair of the compensation committee since 2017. He had been a close ally of former chair Urs Rohner, who stepped down from the board last year after a decade as chair.
Colombas was drafted on to the Credit Suisse board only last year, having been a longtime associate of Horta-Osório and working with the Portuguese at Santander and Lloyds Banking Group.
Credit Suisse shareholders will vote on the list of nominated directors at the group’s AGM on April 29.