Nordea Bank said in a statement that president and CEO Casper von Koskull will turn 60 next year and "has wished to make that the point of retirement following a long and intense career in banking." The Finnish banker joined the Helsinki-based Nordea in 2010 after an investment banking career with Citibank, UBS of Switzerland and Goldman Sachs and has been its CEO since November 2015.
The bank, whose home markets are Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, has been seen by some as running on much higher costs compared to its Nordic peers. Its market value has fallen in past months and another bank, Norway's DNB ASA, recently surpassed it as the region's most valuable banking group for the first time since the pan-Nordic bank's creation in 2001.
Europe's largest activist investor Cevian Capital took a 2.3% stake in Nordea in late 2018 and its co-founder Christer Gardell has urged the bank to speed up its cost-cutting measures and to catch up with rivals on profitability.
Cevian Capital is widely expected to seek a seat at Nordea's board next year. Industry insiders have been speculating about von Koskull's departure since a Swedish insurance company executive, Torbjorn Magnusson, took over as Nordea's chairman in March following an eight-year reign by Bjorn Wahlroos.
"We look forward to continuing our intense work together ... until the right CEO successor to develop the bank for the future has been found and a smooth handover can be ensured," Magnusson and von Koskull said jointly in the statement.
In October 2018, the headquarters and legal domicile of the Nordea Bank was transferred from Stockholm in Sweden to Helsinki, Finland, the only Nordic country inside the eurozone.