Michael Wolf Swedbank avgående vd framför Swedbank skylt
Swedbank CEO Michael Wolf. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson/SVD/TT Foto: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/T

Swedbank Board sacks CEO

"Something had to be done"
2:04 min

The board of the Swedish banking group Swedbank has announced that their chief executive, Michael Wolf, will be stepping down with immediate effect.

The chairman Anders Sundström writes in a press statement Tuesday morning that Wolf 'has been successful and inspiring in leading Swedbank to its current position as one of Europe's strongest banks, with lower risk and sustainable earning capacity.' but that they need new leadership to 'take the bank to the next level'.

Since Wolf took over as CEO in 2009, the bank's shares have increased eightfold, according to Financial Times and he will receive a pay-off worth about SEK 20 million for stepping down with short notice.

There has been some recent controversy surrounding Wolf, as he has previously allowed two members of the bank's executive committee to make extensive real estate investments on the side. According to the newspaper Dagens Industri, the two have bought at least seven properties worth a total of SEK 75 million and have allegedly made deals with bank customers.

The Swedish Shareholders' Association has criticised Wolf's leadership heavily and welcomes the board's decision to oust him as CEO.

"Something had to be done. The real estate investments were very inappropriate. If you look at it from an outsider's perspective, the fact that bank officials have made multimillion deals with their own customers is as close to a bribe as you can get," says Albin Rännar, Head of Market Surveillance at the Swedish Shareholders' Association.

Wolf has been self-critical for allowing the investments, but has denied any actual wrong-doing. 

The chairman of the board, Anders Sundström, tells Swedish Radio News that the real estate investments played a minor role in their decision, but underscores that Wolf is being let go because they are looking for someone who can move the bank closer to its customers and make it more competitive.

"These investments are not the main reason why he is stepping down. It could, of course, have been handled better. Wolf could have stopped the investments if he had wanted to, but this is not the reason why we are looking for a new CEO," Sundström says.

Sundström says that they aim to find a successor as soon as possible. Meanwhile, board member Birgitte Bonnesen will serve as acting CEO.

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