Nordea seeks new CEO to put revenue drive into a higher gear

Beset by years of a lackluster results, Nordea is switching out its chief executive officer to find new momentum in its search of top-line growth.

Photo: Ritzau Scanpix

The biggest Nordic bank announced on Sunday that Casper von Koskull, 58, will retire by the end of next year, and could step aside even earlier as the search for a successor has started.The person ultimately responsible for that search, Chairman Torbjorn Magnusson, said that the new CEO will need refocus the bank on customers to generate the expected revenue growth.

The Nordea that delivers is “a more offensive bank, it’s a bank that takes market share and increases profitability,” said Magnusson, who took over in March, picked from the ranks of Nordea’s main owner, Sampo Oyj. Even so, he downplayed those expectations. “I don’t expect dramatic, quick growth,” he said in an interview Sunday. “I expect us to change to some growth.” Nordea investors have been putting pressure on management to deliver more than just cost cuts.

Under von Koskull’s 3 1/2-year watch, Nordea shed riskier businesses and responded to mounting regulation by simplifying its organization and moving its headquarters inside the European banking union. It also invested in money laundering controls. Analysts also agree. The bank needs to regain market share in key areas such as retail and corporate banking, said Antti Saari, an analyst at OP Group in Helsinki.

“The main thing to resolve is how to find growth momentum,” Saari said on Sunday by phone. “Income has been falling for several years and that has to be stopped.” Bringing in a new CEO “is one way to get the focus back on customer work and away from internal reorganization,” Saari said. “This year, we’ve already seen some early positive signs, for example in retail banking, that the market share begins to stabilize.”

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