Sweden’s Handelsbanken has dispensed of CEO Frank Vang-Jensen, after a unanimous board decision. The bank said that the decision was purely related to the individual and not in any way tied to the bank’s performance. “Handelsbanken remains strong and our long-term goals stand firm”, said Chairman Pär Boman in a statement.
The decision comes just 18 months after Jensen’s appointment, with some insiders saying that he had resisted the bank’s decentralised approach. Unlike its European counterparts, Handelsbanken permits branch managers to make their own decisions on loans, and almost every business decision is made locally, close to the customer.
“All managers at Handelsbanken – particularly the branch managers – must have a very high degree of autonomy”, continued Boman. “Being the most senior manager at the bank therefore requires a special type of leadership – considerably more complex than traditional management. Thus, it is possible to be an excellent leader and manager – as Frank Vang-Jensen has been – but not fulfil the requirements of CEO of Handelsbanken.”
Jensen took the role in March of last year after a Swedish private jet scandal lifted the lid on governance issues in the country, and resulted in one of the most extensive boardroom clear-outs in recent memory. Crucially, the scandal exposed problems with Sweden’s model of active ownership.
Unfortunately, Jensen’s time at Handelsbanken has been short-lived, and Vice-President Anders Bouvin will now step up to the role with immediate effect.
“Anders Bouvin has worked at Handelsbanken for more than 30 years and is totally familiar with the bank’s working methods, culture and values”, said Boman. “For the past ten years, he has worked at Handelsbanken in the UK, where he has built up a national branch network with stable finances, good profitability and by far the most satisfied customers in the market.”