Julius Baer (BAER.S) CEO Philipp Rickenbacher will leave the bank, the Swiss wealth manager announced on Thursday, as it reported net credit losses of 586 million Swiss francs ($679 million) due to its exposure to Signa Holding, a property and retail giant.
The write-off was significantly higher than the 400 million Swiss franc Signa-related loss analysts and a Swiss newspaper had predicted the bank would incur due to its ties to Rene Benko’s Signa, which recently declared bankruptcy.
Julius Baer also announced that it would exit the private debt business and refocus on mortgage and lombard lending.
Rickenbacher, who has led the bank since 2019, will step down in mutual agreement with the Board of Directors, the bank announced.
His deputy, Nic Dreckmann, who is also the current chief operating officer, will take over while an external search for a successor begins.
“I deeply regret that the full loss allowance for the largest exposure in our private debt business has significantly impacted our net profit for 2023,” Chairman Romeo Lacher said in a statement.
“We are refocusing our lending activity on more traditional areas, which are an important part of our wealth management offering.”
On Thursday, the bank reported a net profit attributable to shareholders of 454 million francs for the full year, a 52% decrease from 950 million francs in 2022.