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Credit Suisse board member Gottschling to exit after Archegos debacle

Credit Suisse emerged as the big loser in global investment banks' race to exit trading positions as Archegos collapsed

Credit Suisse | Hedge funds | US markets


Credit Suisse
Photo: Bloomberg

Group AG risk committee head Andreas Gottschling is stepping down from his role after prominent investors indicated they’ll vote to oust him following the $5.5 billion hit from the meltdown of Archegos Capital Management.

Gottschling is standing down ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting on Friday, according to a statement from the company. Shareholder advisory firms including Glass Lewis had urged the bank’s investors to vote against re-electing him for another yearly term.

emerged as the big loser in global investment banks’ race to exit trading positions as Archegos collapsed, forcing it to raise about $2 billion of fresh funds from investors to shore up its balance sheet. The debacle wiped out a year of profit and left investors nursing heavy losses and questioning the bank’s controls after a string of hits and writedowns.

ALSO READ: Credit Suisse Top Holders Seek to Oust Directors Over Archegos

Gottschling is the first supervisory board member to leave because of the Archegos and Greensill Capital debacles. Senior executives including investment banking head Brian Chin, Chief Risk Officer Lara Warner and the co-heads of the prime brokerage unit have stepped down, though Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein has remained in place.

“Shareholders would be warranted to also attribute accountability to the board’s risk committee,” Glass Lewis wrote to investors earlier this month, adding that a change in leadership of the risk committee is needed to regain shareholder trust after the recent financial and reputational damage. It cited performance and experience concerns when advising investors to vote against Gottschling.

Gottstein is battling to rescue his short tenure after the Archegos hit spectacularly capped a run of miscues for the bank. The blowup came just weeks after found itself at the center of the Greensill Capital scandal, when it was forced to suspend investment funds. While seeking to placate investors hurt by the losses, he also now faces the fresh challenge of navigating enforcement proceedings announced by Swiss regulator Finma.

In the run up to Friday’s annual general meeting, influential shareholders including Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and Harris Associates had heaped pressure on the board by calling for the removal of Gottschling and further board members.

Institutional Shareholder Services, another investor adviser, had highlighted the re-election of Gottschling for shareholder attention due to concerns around risk management, but stopped short of saying he should leave.

Gottschling’s exit is unusual in the rarefied world of Swiss banking. Last year, Credit Suisse Chairman Urs Rohner stuck to his seat despite calls from Harris Associates and Silchester Investors for him to step down early after a corporate espionage scandal damaged the bank’s reputation.

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First Published: Fri, April 30 2021. 14:27 IST