HSH Nordbank Proposes von Oesterreich as CEO as Lerbinger Quits

HSH Nordbank AG, the world’s largest shipping lender, plans to name Chief Financial Officer Constantin von Oesterreich as head of the German firm after Chief Executive Officer Paul Lerbinger quit after less than 19 months in the job.

Lerbinger has reached an agreement with the chairman of HSH Nordbank’s supervisory board, Hilmar Kopper, to “terminate his activities for the bank” at the end of this month, Hamburg-based HSH Nordbank said in an e-mailed statement today.

Lerbinger, 56, became HSH Nordbank’s CEO on April 1 last year, having previously been the managing director of Citigroup Global Markets Deutschland AG & Co. KGaA. HSH Nordbank, which was forced to seek a bailout from its shareholders and Germany’s state rescue fund during the global financial crisis, had a net loss of 257 million euros ($337 million) last year because of costs tied to its rescue and reorganization.

“The departure of Dr. Lerbinger during this difficult restructuring phase for the bank is regrettable,” Kopper said, adding that the board will meet on Oct. 24 to discuss approval of the exit and the appointment of von Oesterreich as CEO.

While HSH Nordbank posted a profit of 128 million euros in the first three months of 2012, it swung to a net loss of 67 million euros in the second quarter after loan losses jumped amid the crisis in the shipping industry. The company reported loan-loss provisions of 68 million euros in the three months through June, after recouping money set aside for bad loans a year earlier.

The German states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, which control more than 80 percent of HSH Nordbank, and Germany’s Soffin bank-rescue fund had to bail out the lender during the financial crisis. The company, which plans to cut more than 1,100 jobs by 2014, has been exiting businesses such as financings of airplanes and international real estate and closing offices to gain approval for the state aid.

The bank, which intends to reduce total assets at its main business to 82 billion euros by 2014, forecasts cutting the size of its shipping assets to 15 billion euros by then, compared with 19 billion euros at the end of 2011.

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