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Postfinance appoints Beat Röthlisberger from BLKB as new CEO

Updated at 31 Jan 2024 7:20 am

After a long search, Postfinance has found a new CEO to succeed Hansruedi Köng, who is stepping down at the end of February. Beat Röthlisberger will take over the management of the Swiss Post subsidiary on July 1, 2024.

The 52-year-old Swiss national is currently Deputy CEO of Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank (BLKB), as both financial institutions announced on Wednesday. At BLKB, he has headed the Corporate Client Advisory division as a member of the Executive Board since July 2017.

In August 2021, Röthlisberger also took on the role of Deputy CEO. Röthlisberger previously held various positions at Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) and its successor bank UBS in Basel until 2015.

In Röthlisberger, Postfinance is gaining an experienced strategist, Postfinance wrote in the press release. "Beat Röthlisberger is an experienced banker whose profile makes him an ideal fit for Postfinance and its strategic orientation", commented Marcel Bührer, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Röthlisberger not only has in-depth knowledge of the traditional banking business, but also knows how to represent the company's interests to all stakeholders. "I am convinced that his strong customer focus will be an asset for Postfinance," Bührer continued.

Long-announced resignation

The previous Postfinance CEO, Hansruedi Köng, announced almost a year ago that he would be stepping down at the end of February 2024. Köng has been with Postfinance for over two decades and has been CEO of the Swiss Post subsidiary since the beginning of 2012. Köng marks the end of an era, the financial institution wrote.

"Hansruedi Köng played a key role in shaping Postfinance as CEO and made a significant contribution to its success. I would like to thank him warmly for this. He is handing over a modern, stable bank with a healthy customer base and positive prospects to his successor," explained Bührer.

As announced, CFO Kurt Fuchs will lead Postfinance on an interim basis from March until the end of June. He will then return to his traditional position as CFO. This will ensure the seamless and continuous management of the bank, it was said.

Space for something new

When announcing his retirement, Köng (born in 1966) said that it was time to "make room for something new". The current time was ideal for a change. Postfinance had done its homework in terms of its strategy.

Postfinance suffered a significant drop in profits during the negative interest rate era. But even with the turnaround in interest rates, the financial institution has not yet been able to improve its profits. Rising interest rates have not yet been able to compensate for the loss of income from the negative interest rate environment, such as deposit fees, Postfinance wrote in November when presenting its nine-month figures.

Unlike other financial institutions, Postfinance is not allowed to grant loans such as mortgages as a federal enterprise. Köng repeatedly denounced this fact during his time in office as head of Postfinance.

Unlike Swiss Post CEO Roberto Cirillo, he was always open to the privatization of Postfinance in order to enable the lifting of the credit ban.

Köng becomes chairman of a private bank

Köng was very successful in other areas. Under his aegis, the financial institution was transformed into a public limited company under private law, received a banking license and was placed under the supervision of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority Finma. He also launched various new business models, subsidiaries and joint ventures with other institutions, including Twint and Neobank Yuh.

It is currently known that Köng will take up a position at a private bank in Liechtenstein: He is to be elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of Neue Bank at the Annual General Meeting in April.

©Keystone/SDA

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