Nordea has named former RBS chief and current easyJet chairman Stephen Hester as its next chairman, as the Nordic region’s largest bank continues its turnaround after a Russian money laundering scandal three years ago.
If approved at the Danish borrower’s annual general meeting in March, Hester will replace the sitting Torbjörn Magnusson in October, who will remain as a director on the board, according to a statement on Thursday.
“In my opinion, the bank is the best positioned to achieve success of all Nordic banks and I fully support the team and strategy led by [chief executive] Frank Vang-Jensen, ”said Hester.
The board said it made the decision “taking into account Stephen Hester’s extensive experience in banking and the international insurance industry”.
The 61-year-old is well-known in the City of London after a turbulent period that restructured RBS, now called NatWest, between 2008 and 2013 after being sponsored and nationalized during the financial crisis.
He looted more than £ 1tn of assets and left more than 20 countries, turned over Fred Goodwin’s remains and returned them to a domestic borrower.
However, Hester eventually quarreled with ministers over strategy and left for RSA Insurance, fixing a £ 200 million black hole in his accounts before agreeing a £ 7.2 billion deal to break up the company and to two bidders. to sell.
Magnusson take on the role of Nordea chairman in early 2019 shortly after activist investor Cevian Capital criticized the bank’s profits for being “far too low” with four years of declining revenue. At the time, Nordea was also criticized by regulators for lax anti-financial crime control, as it was caught up in a Russian money laundering scandal that affected many banks in the region.
Under its current CEO, Nordea has cut thousands of jobs, invested in compliance systems and restored revenue growth. Since February 2019, its shares have risen by 38 percent. Cevian, which welcomed Hester’s nomination, remains its second-largest shareholder with a 4.9 percent stake.
Magnusson is also CEO and President of the Nordic insurance and financial control group Sampo, which is the largest shareholder in Nordea. This time last year, activist investor Elliott lobbied Sampo to sell his entire stake in the bank. While it sell about 6 percent last October, it remains the largest owner with 6.2 percent.