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UPDATE 2-UniCredit boss Orcel swings axe in management overhaul

05/12/2021 03:19
UPDATE 2-UniCredit boss Orcel swings axe in management overhaul

Axes twin heads in simplified structure

Hires Jingle Pang to lead digital push

Former UBS exec Melrose becomes new head of strategy

Adds detail

By Valentina Za

- UniCredit's CRDI.MI new chief executive is wielding the axe in a management shake-up to simplify decision-making and boost the Italian bank's digital push.

Andrea Orcel, who took the helm last month after French banker Jean Pierre Mustier fell out with the UniCredit board over strategy, is removing the bank's twin heads and appointing a chief technology officer in a broad overhaul, it said on Wednesday.

He is also bringing in a fellow investment banker to oversee strategy.

Under the new layout a 15-member group executive committee will replaces the current executive management committee comprising 27 people. The bank will also cut to 15-20 of its 44 internal committees.

"I have spent the last few weeks speaking and listening to our people," Orcel said in a message to staff.

"I have heard your concerns about the complexity of our business ... I have felt your frustration about some of the decisions that have been made; confusion about where ultimate responsibility lies; and the resulting lack of accountability."

UniCredit faces profitability issues after Mustier focused on repairing its balance sheet and replenishing its capital reserves while failing to strike a mooted cross-border merger.

Orcel, a veteran dealmaker and former investment banking head at UBS, has pledged to address operational flaws while also studying merger and acquisitions options to drive growth.


STRATEGY FOCUS

UniCredit said it was axing the Western Europe and Finance & Controls divisions, while creating a CEO office comprising a stakeholder engagement function and a strategy and optimisation division.

The latter will be led by Fiona Melrose, former head of strategy at UBS's investment banking arm before joining Santander's strategy division in 2019.

UniCredit named Jingle Pang, who oversaw the digital transformation of Chinese insurance and banking conglomerate Ping An, as the new digital and information officer.

Orcel, who will unveil a new business plan later this year, has said technology will be crucial to his strategic moves. nL8N2M93NU

UniCredit will also appoint Niccolo Ubertalli as head of Italian operations, having previously been in charge of Eastern Europe together with Gianfranco Bisagni. Like the heads for Germany, Central Europe and Eastern Europe, Ubertalli will now report directly to Orcel in a move that UniCredit said reflected Italy's "critical importance" for the group.

Former CEO Mustier had sought to reduce UniCredit's exposure to its debt-laden home country, which people close to the matter have said was one of the reasons he clashed with the board.

Michael Diederich will continue to lead Germany, Bisagni will be in charge of Central Europe and Teodora Petkova, the current head of UniCredit's Bulgarian unit, was promoted to head of Eastern Europe.

Stefano Porro and TJ Lim retain their current roles as, respectively, chief financial officer and chief risk officer, as does Richard Burton, the head of commercial investment banking.

Ranieri de Marchis retains his role of chief operating officer.


(Reporting by Valentina Za
Editing by Agnieszka Flak and David Goodman)

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