Bowing to continuing pressure from shareholders, Zurich Financial Services (ZFS) Chairman and CEO Rolf Hueppi, has decided to resign the latter position, but will remain as head of the board.
In a brief announcement ZFS said he planned to step down as CEO “by mid 2002.” He’s held the position since 1991, and became board chairman in 1995.
Following poor results in 2000, when ZFS’ profits fell by 5.5 percent, criticism of Heuppi’s dual role began to be heard from its shareholders, notably institutional investors. At a meeting last May, Hueppi easily survived calls to give up one of the positions, and forecast profits of between $1.8 and $2 billion for 2001.
These never materialized, as the company was forced to lower forecasts and issue profit warnings several times last year. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, it again revised figures and now anticipates a loss in the $200 million to $300 million range.
Following those results Hueppi’s withdrawal was almost a foregone conclusion, and will at least solve some of ZFS’ shareholders’ immediate concerns. No successor has yet been named to replace him as CEO.
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