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OCBC’s Conner Is a ‘Hard Act’ to Follow, Aberdeen’s Young Says

Hugh Young, who helps manage $70 billion in Asian equities as Singapore-based managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Ltd., comments on Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.’s announcement that Chief Executive Officer David Conner will retire in April after a decade running the city’s second-largest lender.

Conner will be replaced by Samuel Tsien, global head of corporate bank at OCBC, the lender said in a statement today. Aberdeen holds a 5.9 percent stake in OCBC and is the bank’s second-biggest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“David has done a very good job, he’s been there for some time and put in place a good team. Hopefully, it’ll be business as usual, he’ll be a hard act to replace. He has made the bank a lot more commercial and professional.

“It’s not a serious concern for us. We’re relatively comfortable, though surprised. It’s a shame, but you can’t have people in charge of companies forever. He’s had a good inning, and I can’t imagine there being a sea change on the policy front.”

On Conner’s replacement:

“I’ve met Samuel. I don’t have a tremendous feel of him. He comes across well.

“It’s important to us that he’s not being replaced by someone from the outside. You don’t want to bring in a banker with a different culture. It’s a credit to David that the successor is internal. We’re pretty comfortable that it’s someone from the inside.”

On the purchase of ING Groep NV’s Asian private banking assets:

“He’s achieved quite transformational stuff, most recently with the ING purchase, which was a brave move at the time. So far, so good on the acquisition, it seems to be paying off nicely.”

On reviewing Aberdeen’s stake in OCBC:

“We look at it all the time. But does this make us think: oh my god, something is going off the rails, absolutely not.”

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