By Silvia Aloisi
PARIS (Reuters) -France’s third biggest bank, Societe Generale, said on Friday investment banking boss Slawomir Krupa had been chosen by the board to become its next chief executive, succeeding veteran banker Frederic Oudea who is due to step down next year.
The bank said in a statement the board had chosen Krupa unanimously at the end of a selection process which included internal and external candidates.
“He has perfect knowledge of our bank, as well as the challenges that await him; he has demonstrated his ability to lead Societe Generale, a major European bank,” the bank’s chairman, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, said in the statement.
Krupa will be running Societe Generale amid risks of a global recession and a crippling European energy crisis.
Bini Smaghi said his first mission would be to see through the big changes started by his predecessor, including the merger of SocGen’s retail banking networks, the expansion of the bank’s car leasing operations and the growth of its online bank Boursorama.
He has been with SocGen since 1996, longer than any rivals for the job. His latest role, since January 2021, was head of global banking and investor solutions activities.
He joined SocGen as an inspector and made his way up, with jobs in Europe and the United States. From 2016 to 2021 he headed SocGen’s Americas unit.
Krupa had been seen as one of the leading candidates for the job alongside retail banking chief Sebastien Proto after the surprise announcement in May of Oudea’s departure.
Oudea is one of the longest serving CEOs in European banking having led SocGen for 14 years.
Like its European competitors SocGen has also struggled to restore profitability since the 2008 financial crisis. Its shares have more than halved since then, and it now trades at just 0.4 times book value – below domestic rival BNP.
Under Oudea’s leadership SocGen has streamlined operations to boost returns and financial solvency, notably by selling businesses in Central and Eastern Europe and refocusing its corporate and investment banking.
But it also grappled with a string of scandals, including a fraud by rogue trader Jerome Kerviel that cost it 4.9 billion euros. The bank has also paid $2.7 billion in fines in the United States, including for violating sanctions against Cuba and bribing Libyan officials.
Earlier this year, SocGen became the first major Western bank to announce its departure from Russia, which resulted in a 3.1 billion euro writeoff. ($3 billion).
($1 = 1.0261 euros)
(Addiitonal rpeorting by Tassilo Hummel, writing by John O’Donnell and Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Grant McCool)