CLSA Chief Resigned for Personal Reasons, Citic Chairman Says

(Bloomberg) -- Jonathan Slone resigned as chief executive officer of CLSA Ltd. for personal reasons, according to the chairman of the securities firm’s parent.

Citic Securities Co. Chairman Zhang Youjun said at a media briefing on Friday that Hong Kong-based Slone, who’s been CLSA’s CEO for about a decade, will spend more time with his family in New York. Citic tried to convince Slone to stay, Zhang said, adding that he expected the chief executive to remain in his role “for some time.”

Slone tendered his resignation following a drop of about 60 percent in CLSA’s 2018 bonus pool and a number of other recent changes instigated by Citic, including staff adjustments and an overhaul of CLSA’s compensation structure, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week. His looming departure is the latest sign of tension between CLSA’s old guard and its Chinese owner.

CLSA Chief Resigned for Personal Reasons, Citic Chairman Says

Zhang said on Friday that he feels “very sad” about Slone’s resignation, adding that the CEO will help choose his successor. Despite the changes, Citic remains committed to internationalizing and CLSA is an important part of the effort, Zhang said.

Some members of CLSA’s executive committee, including Slone, didn’t receive a bonus for 2018 and were asked to take a pay cut for this year, the people familiar with the matter said earlier this week.

Citic’s takeover of CLSA has been viewed by some in the industry as a test case for whether a Chinese brokerage can successfully expand overseas and compete with the likes of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley. While CLSA has maintained its strong brokerage and research franchises in Asia since the acquisition, it has yet to come anywhere close to matching the global reach of Wall Street’s giants.

Chairman Tang Zhenyi, who was seen internally as a strong advocate for Slone and his team, left last month amid rising tensions between CLSA and Citic Securities. Zhang said Friday that Tang had also left for personal reasons.

Chief Operating Officer Nigel Beattie is in discussions about taking over as CEO, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this week. No final decision has been made, they added. Zhang confirmed that Beattie is still at the firm, but didn’t provide further details.

Citic Securities late Thursday reported net income for the full year of 9.39 billion yuan ($1.4 billion), down 18 percent from 2017, and lower than consensus analyst estimates of 10.02 billion yuan.

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