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ZURICH (Reuters) – EFG International’s Joachim Straehle is stepping down as chief executive after some 2-1/2 years, during which time the Swiss private bank acquired troubled BSI Bank from Brazil’s BTG Pactual.
EFG Chief Financial Officer and Deputy CEO Giorgio Pradelli will take over from Straehle, who will be 60 next year, at the start of 2018 when the bank expects to complete the integration of BSI.
“Now with the integration process coming to a close, it is a natural step for me to hand over my CEO responsibility to a highly qualified leader,” Straehle said in a statement.
Shares in EFG were up 1.5 percent at 0742 GMT.
“Pradelli’s appointment will be well received within the market, as he has been instrumental for the integration of BSI and offers a safe pair of hands,” Kepler Cheuvreux analyst David Hart, who rates the stock “hold”, wrote in a note.
A source familiar with the bank said health issues for Straehle may have played a role in his stepping down. EFG declined to comment on any potential health problems.
Straehle took over at EFG in April 2015 and his time as CEO was marked by the BSI acquisition, which helped EFG nearly double in size to compete better in Switzerland’s crowded private banking market dominated by UBS and Credit Suisse.
However, BSI has been mired in legal problems, chiefly related to transactions linked to the scandal-hit Malaysian sovereign fund 1MDB, which resulted in the closure of BSI’s Singapore branch last year. Its offices in Como and Milan may also have to shut.
EFG’s total assets under management fell 4 percent to 138.4 billion Swiss francs ($142.4 billion) in the first half of 2017. When the BSI deal was announced in February 2016, EFG said the two banks’ combined assets under management totaled 171 billion francs.
Pradelli, 50, said the BSI integration was on track and that he was “honored to be taking the helm at EFG at this very important moment”.
“Going forward, my focus will be on leveraging our increased scale following the transformative acquisition of BSI,” he said.
EFG appointed Dimitris Politis, finance chief at Geneva-based family office SETE S.A., as CFO and Renato Cohn, EFG’s head of investment solutions, as deputy CEO in addition to his current role.
Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans