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SocGen CEO to face shareholders after Rosbank arrest
May 22, 2013 / 9:26 AM / 4 years ago

SocGen CEO to face shareholders after Rosbank arrest

* Golubkov under house arrest for two months

* Oudea’s bonus hike may also be in spotlight

* Rosbank confirms job cuts underway

PARIS, May 22 (Reuters) - Societe Generale management will face investors later on Wednesday for the first time since the shock arrest of the French bank’s top Russian executive on charges of bribery.

The annual shareholder meeting is also likely to draw ire over a rise in 2012 bonus payouts for top management after a year that saw job cuts and a slump in profits at France’s No. 2 listed bank.

SocGen has publicly reaffirmed its support for Russian subsidiary Rosbank and has said the unit is operating normally after its head Vladimir Golubkov was arrested last week in a dramatic sting that was filmed on camera by police.

A judge has since ordered that Golubkov be put under house arrest for two months.

SocGen Chief Executive Frederic Oudea will be under pressure to further reassure investors about the bank’s strategy in Russia after spending billions on acquiring and restructuring Rosbank with little to show in terms of profit.

Bankers familiar with the way Rosbank is run have told Reuters that the unit has suffered from internal divisions between Moscow and Paris and that SocGen has struggled to keep the bank on a tight leash. The French bank has said it remains committed to staying in Russia.

Oudea will likely also have to defend his decision to accept a 75 percent increase in his bonus for 2012, with union representatives saying they will picket the annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

The bank is in the early stages of a drive to cut costs and combine operating divisions to offset recession in France and new regulations designed to make banks safer after the financial crisis.

SocGen has already briefed unions on a plan to cut more than 600 back-office jobs at its Paris headquarters. With revenue growth drying up in its retail branches, there are likely more in the pipeline.

It also plans to cut “hundreds” of back office jobs at Rosbank, Bloomberg News reported, citing unnamed sources.

Rosbank confirmed in a statement that it was cutting jobs as part of a previously disclosed “optimisation” process at its head office, but did not disclose a figure. (Reporting by Lionel Laurent and Ekaterina Golubkova; editing by Patrick Graham)

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