Gruebel for President: Only a Rumor?

Oswald J. Gruebel

Oswald J. Gruebel (Picture: Keystone)

Oswald J. Gruebel, the wise old man of Swiss banking, is set to replace Urs Rohner as chairman of Credit Suisse. That's at least what bankers are telling each other in the bars of Zurich's banking district.

Urs Rohner (pictured below) will stand for reelection as chairman of Credit Suisse (CS) at the annual general meeting of April 29, a spokesman of the bank told Swiss newspaper «Schweiz am Sonntag» (pay-wall).

Perhaps the bank just wants to gauge the market, get a feel of bankers will react if Rohner really stands. The chairman of Switzerland's second-biggest bank still has plenty of time to decide as the schedule for the AGM won't be published before the end of the month.

Rohner Under Pressure

Urs Rohner 501

Rohner is under pressure in Switzerland and many shareholders are blaming him as their stakes declined in value. However, in Asia, CS is doing rather well. The bank generated about 70 billion francs in new money in the past four years and almost 18 billion last year. No other bank achieved a similar result in the Asia-Pacific region. Which explains why the name of the chairman between Singapore and Hong Kong isn't quite as hotly disputed as in Switzerland.

In the coffee shops around the bank's headquarters though, in the bars on Bahnhofstrasse and the old town of Zurich, bankers are toying with the idea of luring Oswald J. Gruebel (pictured on top), the aging star among Switzerland's banking guild, out of retirement. He did so once before, replacing Lukas Muehlemann ten years ago. Gruebel took charge, first together with John Mack and later on his own, before stepping down as CEO in 2007. In 2009 he joined arch rival UBS.

I Know Nothing

And what's the likelihood of Gruebel doing it all over again? «I don't know anything about it, which goes to show, what the chattering class is talking about all day...,» he told

Besides, CS would have to lift the age guillotine – now at 70 – for 72-year-old Gruebel.



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