Bank Pekao Picks Industry Veteran Stypulkowski as New CEO

(Bloomberg, Banks' reports)

(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s second-biggest lender Bank Pekao SA has picked Cezary Stypulkowski, the long-serving head of mBank SA, as its new chief executive officer.

Stypulkowski, who announced his departure from Commerzbank AG’s Polish unit last year, is poised to formally assume his new role as of Oct. 5, pending regulatory approval, according to a regulatory filing published late on Tuesday. 

He will oversee works on the state-controlled bank’s new strategy as Pekao has already exceeded its return-on-equity target, benefiting from a high interest-rate environment as well as a limited exposure to toxic Swiss-franc mortgages.

Pekao picked a “well-known top manager with years of experience, which should provide relief to investors,” according to Lukasz Janczak, an analyst at Erste Group Bank AG. 

However, Pekao has managed to improve its operations in recent years so the scope for further positive changes has narrowed, Janczak said, adding that’s also difficult to expect that Stypulkowski’s view on the industry may be soon reflected in any regulatory changes.

Pekao is also facing an analysis by its key shareholder PZU SA about the future of the insurer’s banking stakes. Its CEO Artur Olech revealed in May that his company will outline a scenario for both Pekao and Alior Bank SA in a strategy that will be presented in the fourth quarter.

Poland’s biggest financial institution PKO Bank SA is also working on a new strategy that will envisage boosting its share in corporate lending, in which Pekao remains the market leader.

Pekao shares added 0.3% in Warsaw, while Warsaw’s WIG20 Index slid 0.7%.

Industry Veteran

Before his 14-year tenure as mBank CEO, Stypulkowski was also at the helm of PZU, Citigroup’s Bank Handlowy SA as well as JPMorgan Chase & Co’s investment banking operations in eastern Europe.

He is widely known for being an outspoken critic of interventions aimed at helping borrowers hit by the appreciation of the Swiss currency. Stypulkowski’s approach contributed to delaying the start of settlements offered to clients, leaving mBank with thousands of lawsuits and the second-highest cost of legal provisions in the industry.

Stypulkowski has also pushed back against a new tax on bank assets that took effect in 2016, as well as zloty mortgage holidays introduced by the previous administration, which was kept by Donald Tusk’s cabinet. The banker argued that the new burdens reduce competitiveness, trim lending capacity and create additional moral hazard. 

(Updates with analyst comment from 4th paragraph, more context, shares reaction)

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