• CEO Willibald Cernko steps down, Zadrazil takes over March 1
  • Bank Austria to reduce domestic branches, staff on losses

UniCredit SpA named a new head at Bank Austria to oversee restructuring as the unit’s chief executive officer Willibald Cernko leaves following losses at the domestic business.

Robert Zadrazil, 45, Bank Austria’s head of private banking, will succeed Cernko, 59, from March 1, the Vienna-based lender said in a statement on Monday. The move is part of a “change of generations” at the bank, which also manages most of the Italian company’s eastern European units, it said.

“The resignation signals a break with past management, which obstructed the needed restructuring of Bank Austria,” said Fabrizio Bernardi, an analyst at Fidentiis Equities, who has a hold recommendation on the stock. “A reshuffle could speed up cost cutting at the unit.”

UniCredit plans to restructure Bank Austria’s consumer business by cutting about a third of the branches to bolster profitability after reviewing options including a sale of the unit. Milan-based CEO Federico Ghizzoni is seeking to revive “poorly performing” businesses as part of a new strategic plan announces last year.

Cernko, who became Bank Austria’s CEO in 2009 and whose third term just started in October, developed the restructuring program to fend off earlier plans by UniCredit to sell Bank Austria’s retail business.

Under the new plan, the bank doubled its cost-cutting plans to 300 million euros ($327 million) a year and will reduce the number of branches to 120 from just under 200 by 2018. While most of the savings will come from eliminating jobs, Cernko said he planned to avoid forced redundancies and declined to give a target headcount when he presented the program Dec. 15.

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