New Credit Agricole CEO shakes up management to boost performance

A pedestrian passes a Credit Agricole SA bank branch in Rodez, France.
Balint Porneczi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Credit Agricole's new chief executive made his mark on Tuesday with a management reshuffle, as the bank nears a settlement with U.S. authorities over possible sanctions breaches.

Philippe Brassac, two months into the job, said he was reorganising business lines to report directly to top management and created new positions in charge of group-wide functions.

"We want both to adapt the group and to get better performance and competitiveness," Brassac said at his first news conference as CEO.

"We take a cautious view of the economic and financial environment. We believe that the potential crisis has not been fully purged."

Like his predecessor, Brassac, 55, has spent his entire career at Credit Agricole, but away from its financial headquarters in Paris, mostly in the south of France.

He took over the reins in the middle of a three-year plan aimed at slashing the bank's balance sheet and focusing on its two key markets -- France and Italy -- after an unsuccessful international expansion.

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Brassac named Amundi CEO Yves Perrier to lead a new business line focused on asset management, insurance and real estate. Amundi is due to be listed on the stock exchange later this year.

Michel Mathieu will be in charge of retail banking subsidiaries, including domestic LCL branches and international retail banking units as deputy CEO Bruno de Laage retires.

Prior to Brassac's arrival in May, Credit Agricole had been fraught with tensions between the listed bank and the network of cooperative regional lenders that control it over strategy and organisation, often seen as too unwieldy.

"We do not seek to change the power in the group. The group has been controlled by a majority shareholder for the last thirty years ... what we seek, is to reorganise us more effectively," Brassac said.

The bank published second-quarter results on Tuesday that showed net income rose to 920 million euros ($1.01 billion) from 17 million a year ago.

The quarter saw an advance in talks with U.S. authorities over payments denominated in U.S. dollars involving sanctioned countries or individuals. The discussions are likely to lead to a global settlement in the autumn, the bank said.

Credit Agricole booked an additional 350 million euros in litigation provisions, bringing the total to 1.6 billion.

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