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Global Excellence in Leadership 2020: Gottstein makes his mark at Credit Suisse

Thomas Gottstein looked uncertain when stepping up to succeed Tidjane Thiam in February, but his response to the pandemic, including a scheme with the government, central bank and other lenders to save Swiss SMEs, demonstrated why he was appointed. He is now reshaping the bank Thiam handed over to him.


Thomas Gottstein took over as chief executive of Credit Suisse on February 14, 2020, in extraordinary circumstances.

The board had asked his old boss, Tidjane Thiam, to leave on February 7, after evidence had emerged that Iqbal Khan, former head of International Wealth Management, had not been the only departing Credit Suisse executive to be put under surveillance – whether Thiam knew of this or not.

Thiam had previously put Gottstein in charge of the bank’s biggest division, the Swiss Universal Bank (SUB), while he fixed the rest of Credit Suisse, shrank the global markets business and reallocated capital away from trading and investment banking towards wealth management.

Thiam asked Gottstein to prepare the Swiss Universal Bank for an IPO to pay for all this, but when he got the restructuring through without needing new capital, Thiam then told him that it was not going to happen after all. It had been just a fallback plan; Thiam’s insurance contract.


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