Outgoing Socgen CEO warmly welcomes in-house successor, union says

Frederic Oudea, chief executive of French bank Societe Generale, attends a news conference to present the 2015 annual results of the La Defense company near Paris, France, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) – The outgoing chief executive of Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) is in favor of selecting an internal candidate to lead the French banking group for the next 10 to 15 years after his departure, said a union representative after his departure. meeting with Frédéric Oudéa.

One of Europe’s longest-serving banking sector CEOs since the financial crisis, Oudea took investors by surprise on Tuesday when he announced he would step down in 2023 after 15 years at the helm of the lender. Read more

Philippe Fournil, a CGT union official, said Oudea’s successor should be announced within six months to allow for a smooth transition period of half a year.

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In a note on the union’s website, Fournier wrote: “While he stressed that the choice will be made by the board of directors, Frédéric Oudéa insisted on the quality of the current management team and its in-depth knowledge of the business.”

“It therefore leans for an internal choice even if the process does not exclude any option”, added Fournier, head of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) of the bank.

In order to focus on the long term, the new chief executive would ideally be chosen from a new generation aged around 45 to 50, he also said in the Thursday note.

A Societe Generale spokeswoman declined to comment.

In a note, Citi analyst Azzurra Guelfi said, “It is clearly too early to have an opinion on potential candidates for the position.”

She added that the market may consider an internal candidate, in addition to potential external candidates, for the new CEO position, citing division chiefs or deputies among those internal candidates.

The decision would rely on the group’s strong fundamentals to define the company’s next stage of growth or profitability, she said.

Speculation on the future leader of the third listed French bank has not yet begun in earnest, but Sébastien Proto, former managing partner of Rothschild & Cie, today at the head of the bank’s distribution networks, is frequently mentioned.

Other possible candidates, said the French business daily Les Echos, are managing director Gaëlle Olivier and Slawomir Krupa, head of global banking and investor solutions activities.

Outside the group, the name of Jean Pierre Mustier, the former managing director of the Italian Unicredit, who had headed the CIB division of Societe Generale from 2003 until the commercial scandal of Jérôme Kerviel, is also circulating.

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Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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