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Six Group Faces Leadership Shake-Up: Fankhauser Exits Amidst Challenges

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 1 February 2024

Departure of the General Counsel from Six Group, signals potential shifts at the financial giant’s helm. Internal tensions and strategic decisions come to light as the conglomerate navigates complex waters.

Six Group Faces Leadership Shake-Up: Fankhauser Exits Amidst Challenges

Dr. Roger Fankhauser, now-former General Counsel of SIX Group AG

Inside Paradeplatz reports today that the head of Swiss asset trading house SIX Group’s legal department has abruptly left the company. The story alleges that Dr Roger Fankhauser had a falling out with the chairman, Thomas Wellauer, over ‘personal chemistry’ issues. Dr Fankhauser’s LinkedIn page has yet to be updated.

Based in Zürich, SIX is, according to Wikipedia, the private operator of Switzerland’s leading stock exchange. It also trades securities such as bonds, derivatives, and options. As such, it plays a pivotal role in Switzerland’s core economy related to banking and finance. SIX is chartered by the Swiss regulator FINMA, which has come under increasing scrutiny for failing to regulate Credit Suisse adequately before its implosion and forced merger in 2023.

SIX has a long history in securities trading, extending back to 1930. Although not well known to the public, it also functions as a central securities depository (CSD). All bonds and shares purchased in Switzerland indirectly via a bank or brokerage are traded at and held by a regulated CSD like SIX. The stability of CSDs is paramount to financial markets and, by extension, the real economy.

According to his profile, Dr. Fankhauser has 20 years of experience as a legal counselor in banking, capital markets, regulatory, and corporate matters. A University of Zurich alums, Fankhauser held, among many other positions, head of legal at SocGen and Vontobel banks.

SIX chairman Wellauer is, according to the Inside Paradeplatz article, well known in the financial community; Wikipedia shows that he has been board chairman at SIX since 2020. He studied chemical engineering and economics and, in the 90s, was a McKinsey partner. He was formerly embedded at Credit Suisse, where he was on the executive board; additionally, he held positions at Winterthur Insurance as CEO, at Novartis as head of corporate affairs, and at Swiss Re as chief operating officer, among other senior-level positions.

Partly under Mr Wellauer’s direction, SIX bought the Madrid Stock Exchange, which remains a part of the SIX group today. According to Inside Paradeplatz, this investment had to be written down on the books of SIX due to poor performance.

A staff member will temporarily fill Dr. Fankhauser’s position while the company seeks a replacement. Given that SIX is central and critical to the Swiss financial community, it is hoped that things stabilize quickly following the rapid departure of Dr Fankhauser.

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