SocGen shakes up management, pledges cuts after shock EUR 1.3B loss

August 4, 2020.

Generale said it would broadly reshuffle its management after posting a surprise EUR 1.26 billion ($1.48 billion) loss Monday and vowed to reduce both costs and risk.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer Séverin Cabannes will step down at the end of 2020, the bank said Tuesday. Cabannes currently runs Societe Generale’s investment banking division, which the bank said will be overhauled after equity trading revenue plunged 80% year over year in the second quarter. 

Philippe Heim, another deputy chief executive officer, also left the bank on Tuesday. Heim oversaw international retail banking, financial services and insurance. 

Heim’s responsibilities have been assumed by Philippe Aymerich, another deputy chief executive officer, who will simultaneously continue his current post as head of French retail banking.

Both Cabannes and Heim were appointed to their roles just two years ago.

The Societe Generale shake-up follows two quarters in which France’s third-largest bank drastically underperformed analysts’ expectations. The bank lost EUR 1.6 billion ($1.9 billion) over the first half of 2020. By comparison, rival made EUR 3.8 billion ($4.5 billion).

Commenting on the losses, Societe Generale CEO Frédéric Oudéa said that the Paris-based lender would cut back on risk-taking structured equities products, which could reduce revenue by EUR 200 million ($235 million) to 250 million ($294 million). The bank also plans to cut EUR 450 million ($529 million) in costs by 2022. 

In another change, Diony Lebot, who will retain the title of deputy chief executive officer, will oversee Societe Generale’s financial services and insurance activities. Those responsibilities will come in addition to her current responsibilities as head of risk and compliance supervision, internal control, and corporate and environmental responsibility. 

The reshuffling reduces the number of deputy CEOs from four to two. 

Societe Generale said the personnel changes were proposed by Oudéa and approved on Monday by the bank’s board of directors, which is chaired by the Italian economist Lorenzo Bini Smaghi. 

Smaghi said the changes “support the in-depth changes needed to build the bank of tomorrow.” 

Societe Generale also said Tuesday that it would create several new deputy general manager roles for a “new generation of high-potential managers.”

Slawomir Krupa, who currently heads banking and investor solutions for the Americas, will become a deputy general manager in charge of global banking and investor solutions worldwide at the beginning of next year. Krupa previously oversaw the bank’s primary bond, securitization and leveraged finance activities.

Chief Financial Officer William Kadouch-Chassaing will become a deputy general manager in charge of finance. 

And Head of Group Strategy Sébastien Proto will also become a deputy general manager, overseeing the bank’s networks and innovation and technology unit. 

“I wanted to assemble a renewed management team with diversified and strengthened banking skills,” said Oudéa of the executive changes. “Together, we will focus on accelerating the transformation of our business to better serve our clients, particularly in capital markets and retail banking,” in an economic environment devastated by COVID-19.

If Oudéa’s latest changes don’t turn Societe Generale around, the CEO himself could be a victim of the bank’s next restructuring. Societe Generale’s board is searching for a successor to be ready by the time Oudéa’s term as CEO ends in 2023, though Bloomberg reported that his replacement could happen before that.