Tidjane Thiam, the 52-year-old CEO of U.K.-based insurer Prudential PUK +2.26% PLC, will take over as chief executive of Credit Suisse AGCS +2.71%, the Zurich-based bank in June, replacing Brady Dougan. But who is the man who will lead one of Europe’s biggest banks which also has a big footprint in the U.S.? Here are ten things to know about Mr. Thiam:
1. He was born in Ivory Coast and was a member of the government there before a 1999 coup.
Mr. Thiam was mainly raised in France, attending the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and then France’s INSEAD business school. He returned to Ivory Coast, where, in his mid-30s, he became the country’s minister of planning. In 1998, he was selected as one of 100 “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum, helping put him on the business world’s map.
A military coup in Ivory Coast in 1999 altered his career path and upended his life there. Mr. Thiam was traveling abroad at the time and when he returned to the Ivory Coast, he was put under house arrest. He was offered a job by the new military government after his release a few weeks later, which he turned down.
2. He was the first black executive to run a major U.K. firm.
When he took over as CEO in early 2009, Mr. Thiam became the first black executive of an FTSE 100 company.
3. He is a McKinsey & Co. alumnus.
Mr. Thiam began his career with McKinsey & Co., where he worked from 1986 to 1994 in both Paris and London, serving insurance companies and banks. He rejoined the consulting firm after leaving Ivory Coast after the coup. In 2002, Mr. Thiam joined British insurer Aviva PLC, rising to head of European operations. In March 2008, he joined Prudential as chief financial officer.
McKinsey now has two former employees with no former banking experience at the top of major banks. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman also worked as a McKinsey consultant before joining Merrill Lynch in an executive role, and then moving on to Morgan Stanley.
4. He’s a deal maker, or at least he’s wanted to be.
Just six months after Mr. Thiam became CEO of Prudential, in 2010, he bid $36 billion for AIA Group Ltd.AAGIY +0.23%, the Asian unit of American International Group Inc.AIG +1.11%, for roughly $36 billion. Prudential shareholders fought the deal, and Mr. Thiam was forced to withdraw it. After the failed bid, some shareholders were calling for Mr. Thiam’s resignation.
In August, Mr. Thiam pointed out that AIA’s stock price had doubled between when he launched his takeover offer and then. He apologized to investors then for “not succeeding.”
5. Prudential was fined one of the largest amounts ever by the U.K.’s financial watchdog for not informing it of the AIA bid.
The U.K.’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, fined Prudential £30 million ($45.5 million) and censured Mr. Thiam personally for not informing them of his plan to bid for AIA Group. At the time, it was the largest penalty levied by the FSA on a firm for not acting in an “open and cooperative manner” with the regulator, and the fifth-largest financial penalty of any kind handed out by the regulator.
6. He speaks German, the main language spoken in Zurich, where Credit Suisse is headquartered…
…and he also speaks French and of course English. Mr. Dougan, by contrast, spoke only a little German and rarely used it.
7. He’s on the board of 21st Century Fox FOXA +3.01%.
Mr. Thiam joined the board in late 2014. 21st Century Fox and News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, were until mid-2013 part of the same company.
8. Credit Suisse shareholders think he’s worth $2.6 billion
The bank’s shares jumped more than 7% on Tuesday in Europe on the news of Mr. Dougan’s departure and Mr. Thiam’s move into the CEO spot, adding $2.6 billion to its valuation.
9. And Prudential shareholders think he’s worth $1.66 billion.
His move from Prudential PLC today cost the insurer $1.66 billion from its market cap after shares fell following news of his exit.
10. Prudential PLC is not related in any way to Prudential Financial Inc. of the U.S.
Just in case there was any confusion.
And here’s a bonus point, because it’s worth mentioning:
11. Brady Dougan has given his stock portfolio a $2 million boost on paper in the most unlikely of ways – by leaving his job.
Mr. Dougan owns around 1.2 million shares in Credit Suisse, according to Factset, thanks to his 25-year career at the U.S. bank. At the end of trading Monday, this shareholding was worth around $28.41 million. However, since Credit Suisse announced the management change, the bank’s share price popped 7.4%. By 14:45 GMT, Mr. Dougan’s holding was worth $30.62 million, an increase of $2.21 million, at current exchange rates.
Mr. Thiam has suffered the opposite effect. Mr. Thiam owns 690,891 Prudential shares, according to Factset. which at the end of trading yesterday were worth $17.34 million. They are now worth slightly less, at $16.89 million. And there are no guarantees of a pay raise for Mr. Thiam at his new employer. He received $13 million at Prudential in 2013, according to the insurer’s latest annual report. In comparison, Mr. Dougan was paid total compensation of 9.82 million Swiss francs ($9.9 million) according to the bank’s latest annual report. In a media call, Credit Suisse declined to elaborate on Mr. Thiam’s new pay package.