Bank Leumi appoints Hanan Friedman as new CEO

Incoming executive has spent over five years at the bank, recently overseeing strategy and innovation; nomination must still be approved by the Bank of Israel

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative image: Israelis walk next to Bank Leumi in Jerusalem on November 16, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative image: Israelis walk next to Bank Leumi in Jerusalem on November 16, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The board of one of Israel’s largest banks, Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., on Tuesday appointed Hanan Friedman as its new CEO.

Friedman, 48, will take over from Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, who announced in June that she was resigning after seven years at the helm.

Friedman’s appointment as CEO must still be approved by the Bank of Israel.

In selecting Friedman, the board was acting on the recommendation of a selection committee headed by bank chairman Samer Haj Yehia, the bank said in a statement.

Friedman is married with four children. He joined Leumi over five years ago as chief legal counsel and later became head of the Strategy, Innovation, and Transformation Division. There, among other projects, he worked to implement the Strum Law, which required Israel’s two largest banks, Leumi and Bank Hapoalim, to sell off their credit card business in order to boost market competition.

Hanan Friedman, who was appointed to become CEO of Bank Leumi, August 27, 2019. (Courtesy Bank Leumi)

“Friedman was a key party to most of the strategic business initiatives carried out by Leumi in recent years, including the
implementation of streamlining processes and the launching of advanced digital services,” the bank said.

Yehia said in the statement the job of finding a new director was “one of the most important [tasks] for the bank’s future in the coming years.”

“The committee considered candidates from outside the bank, from Israel and abroad, and came to the conclusion that Friedman is the most suitable candidate to lead the bank in this period,” said Yehia, who was appointed chairman of the board in July.

Russak-Aminoach will continue to work with the bank until the end of the year, the statement added.

As of July, Leumi had a market cap of NIS 38.3 billion ($10.7 billion) and its share has advanced 22 percent since June 2018. The shares of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s second largest bank by market cap, have advanced 6.3% in the past 12 months, bringing its market cap to NIS 35.3 billion.

The news of Russak-Aminoach’s resignation comes as the CEOs of the nation’s other large banks are also in flux: Arik Pinto, the head of Bank Hapoalim, is to step down at the end of 2019, and the CEO of Israel Discount Bank Ltd., Lilach Asher-Topilsky, said she would step down to join a private equity fund.

Shoshanna Solomon contributed to this report.

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