Swiss top bank UBS calls crisis-hardened ING chief to helm

30 views
UBS has named ING Group CEO Ralph Hamers to succeed Sergio Ermotti as head of the Swiss banking giant.
UBS has named ING Group CEO Ralph Hamers to succeed Sergio Ermotti as head of the Swiss banking giant.

ZURICH — UBS has named ING Group CEO Ralph Hamers to succeed Sergio Ermotti as head of the Swiss banking giant.

The Dutchman will join UBS as a member of the bank's executive board on Sept. 1 "in order to ensure a smooth leadership transition" before taking over the reins as chief executive officer on Nov. 1.

"Ralph is the right CEO to lead our business into its next chapter," UBS chairman Axel Weber said in a statement late Wednesday.

Hamers, 53, joined ING Group in 1991 and has been chief executive since 2013.

"Under his leadership, ING Group has implemented a fundamental shift in its operating model and is now considered one of the best examples of digital innovation in the banking sector," the UBS statement said.

UBS, the world's largest wealth manager, had to lower its medium-term profitability targets in January under pressure from low interest rates and other difficult market conditions.

Ermotti took over the helm of UBS in late 2011 and oversaw a massive restructuring of the bank after turmoil during the 2008 financial crisis.

UBS is the biggest bank in Switzerland, followed by its rival Credit Suisse which is also seeing a change at the top this year because of a snooping scandal.

The scandal, which started with revelations that Credit Suisse had spied on a former employee after he left for UBS, forced out Credit Suisse's chief Tidjane Thiam earlier this month.

Investors responded favorably to Thursday's announcement, with UBS shares rising 2.21 percent at around 1010 GMT on the Swiss stock exchange, where the benchmark index was down 0.12 percent.

Hamers became chief executive of ING at a time when the bank was in the slump of the 2008 crisis, straining to pay back a 10-billion-euro bailout from the Dutch state.

ING reimbursed its loan from the state with interest in November 2014, seven months ahead of schedule.

But Hamers also came under fire during his tenure.

In 2018 the bank settled a 775 million euro money laundering probe after it failed to ensure that its accounts were not misused.

In another controversial move ING in the same year had to drop plans to give Hamers a massive pay hike which included fixed shares with a value equal to 50 percent of his base salary.

The bank was forced into the move after a public outcry, which would have pushed Hamers' income to over three million euros per year.

The planned move even prompted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to weigh in on the issue. He called the proposed increase "excessive" and "unwise."

Hamers was born in the small southern Dutch town of Simpelveld in Limburg province in 1966, the son of a government mining and water board official and a housewife.

He graduated with a Master of Science degree in Business Economics and Operations Research from Tilburg University. — AFP


30 views