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Swiss Re Names Kielholz as Chairman

Posted on 09 Mar 2009

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Swiss Reinsurance Co., the world's second-biggest reinsurer, appointed Credit Suisse Group AG Chairman Walter B. Kielholz to head its board of directors after losses that forced it to turn to Warren Buffett for capital.

Kielholz, 58, currently vice chairman of Swiss Re, will replace Peter Forstmoser, who steps down May 1, the Zurich-based company said today in a statement. Kielholz will be succeeded as Credit Suisse chairman by his deputy, Hans-Ulrich Doerig, 69, while keeping a seat on the board, the bank said.

Swiss Re last month replaced Chief Executive Officer Jacques Aigrain after a foray into sales and securities trading led to a record loss in 2008. Kielholz’s appointment follows top management changes at the country’s biggest bank UBS AG and other Swiss financial firms, which have together reported more than $75 billion of writedowns and credit losses.

“Kielholz shares the blame for Aigrain being able to implement his strategy so easily,” said Rene Locher, an analyst at Sal. Oppenheim, who has a “neutral” rating on Swiss Re shares. “However, the company needs reinsurance specialists on the board and one can’t swap out everyone. It will be a long and winding road back to normal.”