Credit Suisse’s Chairman Urs Rohner Under Siege by Investor Base

Rohner is facing calls to step down after investor backlash over pay and other concerns facing the lender.

Credit Suisse is again facing a potential insurrection, with investors now firmly training their focus on the group’s chairman Urs Rohner, following a rough stretch for the lender. The abrupt shift in attention to Mr. Rohner follows on the heels of similar sentiments against the bank’s CEO Tidjane Thiam, who recently scaled back his bonus.

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The latest rumblings from an anxious investor base are hardly unwarranted – a recently announced bonus expansion for the firm’s leadership follows the group’s $2.4 billion loss in 2016. Investors voiced strong opposition to Credit Suisse’s previous bonus expansion, prompting immediate change.

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More specifically, Credit Suisse announced an expansion of its bonus pool by 6.0 percent, along with a sizable bump for top management, including CEO Tidjane Thiam. The move comes at a time when other lenders are embarking on a different course altogether, such as Deutsche Bank gutting its bonus pool and opting for different payout strategies in the form of shares.

Tidjane Thiam (Photo: Bloomberg)

Wholesale change unlikely

Consequently, Mr. Thiam’s salary and overall compensation was reined in to CHF 10.24 million ($10.2 million) earlier this month. However, now the focus is on Credit Suisse’s Chairman Rohner who faces calls to step down after sustained share-price losses. However despite this flurry of angst he is expected to be re-elected to the board, while also scoring a binding vote on bonuses and board pay, according to a Reuters report.

Part of Mr. Rohner’s issue may be his mercurial background which is devoid of major banking experience. Having entered into the space in 2004, he has been at the helm of one of Credit Suisse’s rougher patches. Whether this was of his own making or simply a product of troubling times for the banking sector, Rohner is now effectively under siege by investors to prove that he can right the proverbial ship ahead of the group’s Q1 earnings.

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