February 6, 2018 / 12:17 PM / 14 days ago

'Leadership style' played role in ABM Amro chairwoman's departure

AMSTERDAM, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Dutch bank ABN Amro on Tuesday said that an internal discussion over chairwoman Olga Zoutendijk’s “leadership style” had played a role in her decision not to seek a second term.

ABN Amro announced late on Monday that Zoutendijk, one of the Netherlands’ most prominent bankers, would not seek reappointment when her term expires in July. It praised her accomplishments and said she would retain a role as an ordinary board member effective immediately while the bank looked for a new permanent chair.

But a report in Het Financieele Dagblad published on Tuesday said Zoutendijk had been pressured to leave her job.

ABN Amro issued a statement noting the newspaper article.

“Ms Zoutendijk’s leadership style has been a topic of discussion internally. These discussions have been part of the considerations of Ms Zoutendijk not to opt for a second term,” ABN Amro’s statement said. “However, the press article does not do justice to the contribution of Ms. Zoutendijk to the bank.”

Zoutendijk had previously been a manager at Standard Chartered before she joined ABN’s supervisory board in 2014. She became chairwoman in May 2016, six months after the initial public offering that marked ABN’s return to public markets after it was nationalised during the financial crisis.

Het Financieele Dagblad on Tuesday quoted former ABN Amro CEO Gerrit Zalm -- also the Netherlands’ former finance minister -- as saying Zoutendijk had turned out to be an “unfortunate appointment who caused the bank damage.”

The FD reported, citing sources close to the bank, that shortly after taking office, Zoutendijk in turn said Zalm’s team had not been ready for privatisation and the bank was lagging competitors.

Zalm stepped down in April 2017, a year before the end of his contract.

A spokeswoman for Zalm, who is now on Royal Dutch Shell’s supervisory board, said she would relay a request to him for comment.

Zoutendijk did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Toby Sterling. Editing by Jane Merriman

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