Société Générale: Will new CEO Slawomir Krupa take SoGen out of Africa?

By Joël Té-Léssia Assoko
Posted on Friday, 7 October 2022 11:18

French-Polish Slawomir Krupa has been with Société Générale for more than 25 years. ©DR

The profile of Slawomir Krupa, the bank’s future CEO, offers a sharp contrast to the current boss, Frédéric Oudéa. Internally, though, the bank has insisted on the solidity and durability of their African strategy.

For some, a Thomas Buberl-like scenario cannot be ruled out. Promoted CEO of the AXA group in 2016, the German manager, less familiar with the African continent than his predecessor – the very patrician Henri de Castries  – had rather quickly announced the “rationalisation” of the insurance group’s footprint, with the focus on the sale of several African assets: A scenario that was abandoned in the end.

However, the 30 September announcement of the choice of Franco-Polish Slawomir Krupa as the future CEO of Société Générale (he will have to be confirmed in May 2023 by the shareholders) hasn’t failed to raise questions on the place of Africa in the bank’s perimeter – an ongoing topic of discussion despite SocGen’s repeated denials.

The commitments of Société Générale in Africa remain the same

“He is a pure investment banker, in the great Anglo-Saxon tradition, more specialised in big deals. He arrives at the helm without any knowledge of the continent, in a very adverse geopolitical context and a loss of influence of France in Africa, meaning less support from Paris in case of difficulties, so yes, the future of this area within the perimeter is the big question mark,” says an observer of the African banking sector.

SoGen veteran

A graduate of Sciences Po Paris, Slawomir Krupa is a veteran of Société Générale, which he joined in 1996, first in general inspection, before joining the division of large customers and investment banking, of which he has been in charge as deputy general manager since 2021, working alongside the polytechnic and former senior civil servant Frédéric Oudéa. The latter had promoted the continent as an integral part of Société Générale’s long-term strategy.

“The roadmap and the strategy in Africa are known and have been developed in a solid and constructed manner. The business unit is in place and at work and the commitments of Société Générale in Africa remain the same,” says a bank spokeswoman, reaffirming all the strategic points made by the group’s Africa director, Laurent Goutard, in an interview with us last May.

“It should also be noted that the group has increased the skills of its experts in infrastructure finance in Africa, and all the deals carried out in this area have been made within a division headed by Slawomir Krupa,” our interlocutor says.

Large transactions

Another SocGen executive says: “Although he was not necessarily directly involved, it is clear that all the major deals and all the major transactions of the investment bank in Africa were carried out through his department.” Since 2018, relations with major clients and investment banking for Africa at Société Générale have been led by the Togolese Cathia Lawson-Hall.

The French bank insists on “the great professionalism, solidity, super track record and exciting profile” of the future CEO, who was notably dispatched to New York to improve relations with US regulators. Société Générale also points to the fact that there will be a transition period of several months before the future boss takes office. Time, if necessary, to convey certain messages?

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