Amex suspends foreign currency boss; Deutsche bonuses may shrink
Receiving Wide Coverage ...
MetLife said President and CEO Steven Kandarian is retiring on April 30 and turning over the CEO role to Michel Khalaf, currently president of MetLife’s core U.S. business as well as its European, Middle East and African operations. The nation’s second largest life insurance company also announced that Glenn Hubbard, its current independent lead director and dean of the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University, will assume the newly created role of nonexecutive chairman.
“Under Mr. Kandarian the company cut costs, returned capital to shareholders, and closed significant mergers — but his tenure was also marked by painful missteps in its pension business and a spin-off that has been a stock market disappointment. Shares in MetLife have returned 32% since Mr. Kandarian started in the top job in 2011, significantly less than the broader market, insurance industry indices and MetLife’s rival Prudential Financial.”
Wall Street Journal
American Express suspended Taylor Simonin, a director in its foreign-exchange department, as part of its ongoing investigation into pricing practices in the division. The unit has been under investigation by the FBI to determine if the company misrepresented pricing on currency conversions to clients in order to win their business. The Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are also reviewing the unit. Last July the paper reported that Amex "routinely increased currency-conversion rates without notifying customers in order to boost revenue and employee commissions.”
Please be seated
Barclays shareholders should consider giving Sherborne Investors' Edward Bramson, the British bank’s second largest shareholder with a 5.2% stake, a seat on the board of directors, as he is requesting, the paper says. The bank’s stock is down nearly 25% since he purchased his stake, and he wants the bank to reduce its investment banking unit and balance-sheet risk. “An awkward naysayer like Mr. Bramson might be just what the board needs,” the Heard on the Street column suggests.
Deutsche Bank’s investment banking bonus pool “is looking pretty horrible,” and bankers are bracing for a 15% to 20% cut in their bonuses “after the division recorded one of its worst years since the financial crisis and its shares slumped to a record low.”
Moving on up
Monzo, the British fintech firm, is set to name former Barclays vice chairman Gary Hoffman as its chairman “as it looks to build on recent growth to take on Britain’s largest banks.” The firm has signed up more than a million customers since receiving its full banking license two years ago. “The company has so far proven particularly popular with younger users, but Chief Executive Tom Blomfield said recently that new offerings such as savings and investment products would help it attract a wider range of customers as it looks to break into the ranks of the U.K.’s biggest banks.”
Making a Ripple
Ripple on Tuesday said it now has 200 customers sending live payments through its network and is now operating in more than 40 countries. “Still, it has a long way to go before making a dent in global payments, which is dominated by the world's biggest banks.”
The company also said that XRP, its “popular yet controversial” digital token, received its first official bank endorsement from the Euro Exim Bank in London.
“Deutsche Bank has a severe talent loss problem and this bonus cut will exacerbate the problem.” — Tim Zuehlke, managing partner at FRED, a Frankfurt-based executive search firm.