Who is Michael Klein, new CEO of CS First Boston?
Credit Suisse is going through a bad time - but some people there are doing just fine.
One of them is Michael Klein, the former Citigroup banker who will be heading CS First Boston, the newly spun-out corporate and investment bank. David Miller, the current head of the investment bank, will be "supporting the establishment of CS First Boston as an independent bank," which seems to suggest he might be leaving.
Klein, meanwhile, is a left field candidate who seems to have come from nowhere.
M Klein & Company
Klein is well-placed to run the newly independent CS First Boston: he's spent the past 10 years running M Klein & Company, a firm that acts as a “global strategic advisor to chief executive officers, boards of directors, governments, and large institutional investors,” in the words of the World Economic Forum, since 2010.
The firm is essentially Klein's freelance work. He worked on Glencore’s $60bn acquisition of Xstrata in 2013 – unusually, he was listed on both company’s lists of advisors – not as a banker but as a “strategic consultant”. His role was described by the FT as that of an “honest broker” between the CEOs of the two firms.
Klein has been with Credit Suisse for some time, but he doesn't appear to be a full-time employee. He's been a member of the board of directors, and was on the risk committee until 2021. He's currently on the compensation committee since 2019, and the sustainability advisory committee since 2022.
The bulk of Klein's career was spent at Citi; he spent 20 years at the US bank, which he joined the same year he graduated from Wharton. Klein's roles at Citi were many and various: he was CEO of banking and markets and CEO of banking in EMEA, but was ultimately shunted into a range of chairman positions, roles often reserved for veteran bankers en route to retirement.
Klein's departure from Citigroup in 2008 was tumultuous. He was long seen as a potential front-runner for CEO and departed from the firm just four months after Vikram Pandit got the job in 2007.
Citigroup had bought out Pandit’s hedge fund – Old Lane Partners - seemingly as a way to take him on directly as a CEO candidate. Klein meanwhile had been at the firm for two decades and was very much the insider.
Charles Prince, then-CEO, tried to keep both Klein and Pandit under Citi’s umbrella by cleaving the firm in two for them to run without losing face. But Prince departed the firm less than a year later – and Pandit, once becoming CEO, named his former business partner John Havens in a role above Klein.
Klein quit the firm with a $42m pay out. The Diadochi weep.
At the time of his departure from Citi, Klein was working on a $13bn bridging loan for Dow (the chemical company) from three banks including Citi. When he departed Citi, Dow took him on to advise on the deal as an “internal consultant”.
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