Danske Bank ditches CEO candidate after regulator rejection

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO), reeling from a money laundering scandal, suffered another setback on Wednesday when the Danish financial regulator rejected its candidate for chief executive on the grounds that he lacked sufficient experience.

FILE PHOTO: General view of the Danske Bank building in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/File Photo

Denmark’s largest bank is looking for a new leader after Thomas Borgen was ousted last month as the group struggles to deal with a money laundering scandal.

FILE PHOTO: Danske Bank sign is seen on a building in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/File Photo

Danske’s board had asked the financial watchdog for its approval of Jacob Aarup-Andersen, 40. Aarup-Andersen joined Danske in 2016 from Danica Pension and has held the post of head of wealth management since May this year.

While the regulator found he was “well qualified in many areas”, it added “longer experience, including within certain of Danske Bank’s business areas, is needed,” the bank said.

“The Board of Directors unanimously backed Jacob Aarup-Andersen as new CEO, knowing full well that longer experience in certain areas would have been desirable,” said Chairman Ole Andersen in a statement, adding that the board was now in dialogue with other potential candidates.

Jesper Nielsen, who was the head of Danske Bank’s domestic banking business, will stay on as interim CEO.

Other names mentioned by analysts and media outlets as possible candidates are the CEO of Danish mortgage lender Nykredit, Michael Rasmussen, the head of European Fixed Income and Commodities at Morgan Stanley (MS.N) Jakob Horder, and Annika Falkengren who is the former CEO of Swedish bank SEB (SEBa.ST) and a partner in Swiss bank Lombard Odier.

Former CEO Borgen quit after an internal inquiry found that payments totaling 200 billion euros ($231 billion), many of which Danske Bank said were suspicious, had been moved through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

Danske Bank shares hit a four-year low this month after the bank said it faced a U.S. criminal investigation into the case.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; editing by Jason Neely/Keith Weir

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