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CEO of top Swiss bank dies suddenly, sparking
rumours of suicide
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
UPDATED: 11:24 EDT, 5 December 2008
Bank chief Alex Widmer died unexpectedly
The CEO of Julius Baer, Switzerland's biggest private bank, has died
Alex Widmer, a widower, died aged 52, leaving behind three children.
It has been reported that close friends of Mr Widmer's family said
he committed suicide, though Swiss police will not confirm this.
Julius Baer dates back to the 19th century and manages more than
360billion Swiss franch in assets for wealthy individuals and
Shares in Julius Baer have lost some 60 per cent this year as
markets have worried about outflows at its hedge fund GAM.
However a spokesman for the bank said there was no link between Mr
Widmer's death and the group's current activities, but declined to
give further details on the cause of death on Wednesday night.
A source said employees at the bank had been told Widmer had died
from an unspecified illness.
In an interview with Bloomberg conducted the day before his death,
Mr Widmer said: 'Even if global wealth creation is getting slower,
we should do better than the rest.'
A Zurich-based trader who did not want to be named said: 'It is a
great shame. It is very sad. He [Mr Widmer] embodied Julius Baer. He
was the most important person in private banking.'
Following the news, shares in Julius Baer fell 6.5 per cent to 34.60
Swiss francs, underperforming a 1.5 per cent drop in the DJ Stoxx
index of European banking stocks.
Mr Widmer will be succeeded by Hans de Gier, who served as the CEO
of Julius Baer Group until September 2008 when he stepped down to
focus on his role as chairman of hedge fund unit GAM.
'This is a setback for the bank. Widmer is widely regarded as the
architect of its new direction,' Claude Zehnder, a ZKB trading
'However, with De Gier they have someone very experienced in place
who knows the bank inside out,' he said.
Commenting on Mr Widmer's death, Chairman Raymond Baer said in a
statement: 'We have lost a dear friend, a good colleague and a
charismatic leader. Alex very successfully opened up new dimensions
for the Private Banking business of Julius Baer.
'His enormous commitment, his active relationship and close
involvement with the clients and his passion for banking will
forever serve as a model for us.'
Mr Widmer joined the Julius Baer Group in 2005 as a member of the
executive board and head of private banking and became the CEO of
Bank Julius Baer in November 2007.
The bulk of his career was spent at Credit Suisse, where he worked
for 19 years, as global head of private banking from 2002 to 2005
and as a member of the executive board.
Before that he was the chief executive of Credit Suisse's
Asia-Pacific and Middle East business. He also worked in Tokyo and
New York early in his career after gaining a doctorate in economics
from the prestigious St. Gallen university in 1985.
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suddenly, sparking rumours of suicide