ECB Is Said to Push SocGen to Name Deputy CEO Replacement
(Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank is pushing Societe Generale SA to accelerate the search for a successor to Deputy Chief Executive Officer Didier Valet, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The lender’s supervisor has expressed concern about the lack of succession planning for Chief Executive Officer Frederic Oudea in the event of an emergency, the people said. That’s prompting the bank to look internally and externally because executives at Societe Generale may not be suitable, according to one person.
Valet’s surprise exit last month was part of an effort to settle a U.S. Justice Department investigation into SocGen’s alleged manipulation of interest-rate benchmarks, people familiar said at the time. The departure exposed a hole at the top of the organization. Valet was in charge of SocGen’s corporate and investment bank, a global leader in equity derivatives, and was seen as a successor to Oudea.
SocGen has said that it aims to resolve the U.S. probes into Libor, as well as a separate case into alleged bribery of Libyan officials, within weeks and that it has entered “more active discussions” with U.S. regulators on the matter.
While the bank has two other deputy CEOs -- Severin Cabannes and Bernardo Sanchez Incera -- other internal candidates include Chief Financial Officer Philippe Heim and Chief Risk Officer Diony Lebot, two people said. The internal bench is considered thin, one of the people said.
France’s second-largest investment bank is also reviewing external executives, the people said, declining to be identified as the discussions are private. Candidates who may be considered include HSBC Holdings Plc’s investment bank chief Samir Assaf, Morgan Stanley investment banker Franck Petitgas and Natixis SA CEO Laurent Mignon, the person said. French-speaking candidates with a background in markets are favored, the person said. It’s unknown if the bankers have been approached. Morgan Stanley declined to comment, while Petitgas and Mignon weren’t immediately available.
The European Central Bank and SocGen declined to comment.
Other candidates who could be considered include Gael De Boissard, who worked at Credit Suisse Group AG, and former London Stock Exchange Group Plc chief Xavier Rolet, one of the people said. De Boissard didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, while Rolet declined to comment.
Oudea, who has led SocGen for a decade, has temporarily taken over Valet’s functions and said a replacement for the deputy will be announced shortly, the bank said on March 14.
While Oudea’s term as a board member will expire next year, there’s little question that he will continue for another four-year term, one of the people familiar said. SocGen’s new management team will pursue the bank’s 2020 strategic plan under Oudea’s “authority,” the bank said last month.
SocGen shares rose about 1 percent to 44.88 euros as of 3:17 p.m. local time and have gained about 4.3 percent this year.
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