Israel Discount Bank Chief Executive Spiegel to Depart in March

Israel Discount Bank Ltd., the country’s third-largest bank by assets, said its Chief Executive Officer Reuven Spiegel will step down in March 2014 due to personal reasons.

Spiegel, who joined bank in 2001, was appointed CEO in August 2010, and took the role in January 2011. He was overseeing the implementation of a strategic program to improve efficiencies at the bank, the statement said.

“It is surprising news,” Terence Klingman, head of research at Psagot Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said by phone today. “He is leaving in the midst of a process of cutting costs and there is still work to be done.”

About 60 percent of operational expenses at Israeli banks stem from salaries, the most of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development after Denmark and compared with an average of 47 percent, according to Bank of Israel data.

“I received with sadness the decision of Reuven to leave,” Discount chairman Joseph Bachar said in the statement. “His professional abilities were central to the success of the group.” Discount shares have advanced 55 percent in the past 12 months, compared with a 33 percent rise in the Tel Aviv Banking Index.

As most of the management team is relatively new at the bank, the new CEO will probably have to come from outside, Psagot’s Klingman said.

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