Kolding Becomes Danske Bank CEO

Danske Bank named its chairman, Eivind Kolding, the group’s new chief executive to restore the bank’s leading position after struggling through the financial crisis, writes Reuters. Kolding will replace retiring Peter Straarup as CEO and board member Ole Andersen will replace Kolding as chairman. Andersen was senior partner at Swedish private equity group EQT Partners from 2003 to 2008 and is currently senior advisor at EQT, writes Reuters.

(Reuters) – Danske Bank named its chairman, Eivind Kolding, the group’s new chief executive to restore the bank’s leading position after struggling through the financial crisis.

Denmark’s biggest bank said on Monday that Kolding would replace retiring Peter Straarup as CEO on Feb. 15 and board member Ole Andersen would replace Kolding as chairman.

Kolding, 52, is chief executive of container shipping company Maersk Line, part of the A.P. Moller-Maersk group which is Danske Bank’s biggest shareholder.

“The overall strategy is in place,” Andersen told Reuters. “The strategy is that Danske Bank must regain a leading position.”

“We must get the profitability of the bank back,” he added.

He said the strategy did not include a sale of the bank’s troubled Irish banking activities. Danske owns National Irish Bank in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Bank in Northern Ireland where high loan losses have dented recent results.

“No one in this bank thinks it has been a fantastic acquisition. There are no considerations at all regarding selling the banks,” Andersen said. “We will do everything we can to get the best out of the situation we are in.”

Last month, Danske Bank said it would cut costs by 10 percent, axing 2,000 jobs in the process, after quarterly profit was wiped out by a drop in trading income, making it the latest Nordic lender to combat slowing revenue growth and higher funding costs.

Danske Bank shares rose 2.4 percent to 73.5 crowns by 0910 GMT, outperforming the Nordic banking sector index, which was up 0.2 percent, and the Copenhagen bourse’s blue-chip index, which was up 0.8 percent.

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Kolding will take over as CEO on Feb. 15, Danske Bank said.

Danske Bank had announced in connection with its third-quarter results in November that it would seek a replacement for Straarup. Danish commercial broadcaster TV2 had said late on Sunday that Kolding would be named the bank’s new CEO on Monday.

“Kolding will bring strong international experience into the daily operations of the bank,” Andersen said, adding he knows the bank well after 10 years as a member of the board.

“He is a strategically strong candidate with a lot of experience in business execution,” Andersen said.

Andersen was senior partner at Swedish private equity group EQT Partners from 2003 to 2008 and is currently senior advisor at EQT. He is also the chairman of the board of Bang & Olufsen and Christian Hansen.

Kolding joined the Danske Bank board of directors in 2001 and became chairman in March this year.

He has a law degree from Copenhagen University and started his career at the A.P. Moller-Maersk group in 1989 as a lawyer. He has been the chief executive of Maersk Line since 2006.

Retiring Straarup, aged 60, who has led Danske Bank since 1998, has been widely seen as one of the most powerful men in Denmark.

Towards the end of his tenure, Straarup came under criticism for expanding to Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2005 which, with the onset of the financial crisis, left the group exposed to heavy writeoffs of loans made during the Irish property boom. (Reporting by Mette Fraende and Ole Mikkelsen)

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