EFG welcomes new chief executive

John Williamson has started as the new CEO of EFG International Group

John Williamson has started as the new CEO of EFG International Group, after Lonnie Howell, the long-time head and co-founder of the group, decided to step down.

Williamson was chief executive of the group’s UK and Channel Islands operations, EFG Private Bank, a role he took up in 2002. Previously, he was for 16 years a senior banker at Coutts, latterly as COO.

Replacing Williamson at EFG Private Bank is Anthony Cooke-Yarborough, previously managing director at the firm. He was previously head of UK private banking for Barclays and CEO of Barclays Private Bank and before that deputy head of the UK private client business Merrill Lynch.

Howell remains a major shareholder of the bank and will be proposed as a member of the board of directors.

The bank’s core profit is under pressure. In June, the bank announced it had slashed its 2011 profit forecast, blaming historically high levels of the Swiss franc, in particular against the US dollar. The bank said, based on year-to-date performance, it expected a core net profit of 140 million to 160 million Swiss francs ($167 million to $191 million) for 2011, down from the 200 million franc target set earlier this year.

Williamson has said that his appointment marked a shift of EFG’s focus from growth to earnings and value. He said the bank’s focus was on profitability, and that each of the bank’s business units were under review and that some of less profitable businesses could be could sold off.

The bank is part of the EFG Group, which also controls Greek listed lender Eurobank EFG. 

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