SocGen CEO Finally Resigns

Finally. SocGen CEO Daniel Bouton will officially resign as of May 12, and it seems like SocGen’s head of investment banking, Jean-Pierre Mustier, won’t last much longer either. Bouton will remain as chairman, but my guess is that’s a face-saving measure and that he’ll quietly step down from that role too, sooner rather than later. So this kind of reaction might yet prove to be premature:

"When organizations get into trouble that can provide an impetus" to consider separating the leadership roles, said Eleanor Bloxham, president of the Corporate Governance Alliance, an education and advisory company in Columbus, Ohio. "It’s smart to do."

Does Bloxham not remember what happened when Sandy Weill stepped down as CEO of Citigroup? He stayed on as chairman for a while, but when he finally gave up that role, it was taken over by his successor as CEO, Chuck Prince. The odds-on favorite for the next chairman of SocGen must, similarly, be the new CEO, Frederic Oudea. Yesterday’s announcement of Bouton’s departure might be good for accountability, but it’s not necessarily great news in terms of governance.

Update: A reader asks:

When you’re president of something called the Corporate Governance Alliance, it sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? But it’s really just an obscure, Ohio-based consulting company that is, as far as I can tell, little more than two persons and a dog. (Actually, I’m not sure they have a dog.) Eleanor Bloxham is also president of The Value Alliance, whatever that is. So why should Bloxham know anything about governance at SocGen?

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