Handelsbanken CEO departs after leadership style clash

Handelsbanken, one of Sweden’s biggest banks, has dismissed its chief executive officer (CEO) Frank Vang-Jensen after less than 18 months in the job.

The bank is renowned for its conservative approach and a highly decentralised model, under which branch managers take loan decisions.

Handelsbanken named the head of its UK operations, Anders Bouvin, as successor to Vang-Jensen, a Dane, with immediate effect. Reports suggest that Vang-Jensen had upset colleagues by starting to centralise power at the bank’s Stockholm headquarters and the board had decided to act before the dispute became public.

“Following an extensive analysis, the assessment of a unanimous board is that there should now be a change of group chief executive,” a statement issued by the bank read.

“All managers at Handelsbanken – particularly the branch managers – must have a very high degree of autonomy,” added its chairman, Par Boman, who said that the position of CEO required a special type of leadership.

“Thus, it is possible to be an excellent leader and manager – as Frank Vang-Jensen has been — but not fulfil the requirements of CEO of Handelsbanken.”

Boman was previously CEO, but became Handelsbanken’s chairman in March 2015 when he was succeeded by Vang-Jensen. The reshuffle followed a corporate spending scandal at other companies closely tied to Handelsbanken’s main owner, with management and board changes at several companies.

The bank itself was untouched by the scandal, which centred on the two other main groups associated with it: Industrivarden, the holding company and Handelsbanken’s main shareholder, and SCA, a paper company.


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