Leonard Schrank is to step down as chief executive officer of financial messaging network Swift at the end of 2007, after fifteen years in the post.
News of Schrank's forthcoming retirement came as Swift chairman Jaap Kamp confirmed that in December last year the co-operative's board ratified a final three-year extension to the CEO's contract.
Kamp comments: "Probably the most important role of a board is choosing its CEO and overseeing his succession, a role it takes very seriously. Lenny was recruited as CEO in July 1992 and by 2007 will have been Swift's longest serving CEO with many accomplishments of which we are all very proud."
A former head of Chase/Interactive Data Corp, Schrank was recruited to fill the power vacuum created by the unexpected departure of long-serving CEO Bessel Kok to PTT Belgacom in July 1991. The executive committee which had once wielded so much power at Swift and had antagonised many of the Society's largest shareholders was quietly dismantled under Schrank, who sought to mend fences with the powerful US banking community and take on board their objectives for the co-operative.
"We have come a long way since I joined in 1992," says Schrank. "Prices are down nearly 80%. Traffic is up nearly five-fold to 2.3 billion messages a year, over 10 million each day. We have opened the securities market which now accounts for over 33% of Swift business...We have completely rebuilt our core system and our entire community has migrated to SwiftNet."
Speculation will inevitably move to likely successors. Among the internal candidates, Lázaro Campos, who heads up the banking industry division, is considered by many Swift watchers to be a strong contender for the top spot.
Schrank plays a straight bat to questions about the succession, pointing out that a lot can change in two and a half years. "All things being equal, we'd much prefer to go with an internal candidate," he says. "But we're not ruling out the possibility of an external search. It's much too early to speculate."