The board of Israel’s largest bank by market capital, Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., has appointed Samer Haj Yehia as its chairman to replace David Brodet, who chaired the board for the past nine years.
The appointment of Haj Yehia, 48, who has been a director at Leumi since 2014, marks the first time an Israeli bank has appointed an Arab chairman.
The news came as the CEO of the bank, Rakefet Russak-Aminoach said Sunday that she’ll be stepping down from her job, which she held for seven years.
A lawyer and certified public accountant, Haj Yehia is scheduled to replace Brodet on July 21. His appointment is still subject to approval by the Bank of Israel, Leumi said in a statement on Sunday.
Haj Yehia is a board member at a number of companies, including Hadassah Medical Center and the Strauss Group. He has a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has served as a vice president of Fidelity Capital Markets in 2006-2012.
Since 1990, Haj Yehia has been a senior lecturer at universities including MIT, Harvard and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Leumi has a market cap of NIS 38 billion ($10.7 billion) and its share has advanced 22 percent in the past 12 months. The shares of Bank Hapoalim Ltd., Israel’s second largest bank by market cap, have advanced 7% in the past 12 months, bringing its market cap to NIS 35.3 billion.