Walter Kielholz

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Person.png Walter Kielholz   Amazon C-SPAN IMDB ZoominfoRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
BornWalter Bruno Kielholz
February 25, 1951
Zürich, Switzerland
Alma materUniversity of St. Gallen
SpouseDaphne Kielholz-Pestalozzi
Member ofCarnegie Endowment for International Peace, Global Commission for Post-Pandemic Policy, Institute of International Finance, Rive-Reine-Conference
a Swiss insurance and bank manager with extensive networks

Walter Bruno Kielholz is a Swiss insurance and bank manager. From 2003 to 2009 he was Chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse and from 2009 to April 2021 Chairman of the reinsurer Swiss Re. He has been Honorary President of Swiss Re since April 2021.[1]


Kielholz completed a degree in business administration at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 1976. From 1997 to 2002 he was CEO of Swiss Re; since 2009 he is Swiss Re's chairman.

Kielholz studied business administration at the University of St. Gallen, and graduated in 1976 with a degree in business finance and accounting.

He began his career at the General Reinsurance Corporation, Zurich in 1976. After working in the US, UK and Italy, he assumed responsibility for the company's European marketing. In 1983 he opened an art gallery and picture framing business with his wife, Daphne Kielholz-Pestalozzi. A second gallery was opened in 1986. He joined Credit Suisse in 1986, where he was responsible for client relations with large insurance groups in the multinational services department.

In 1989, Kielholz joined Swiss Re, Zurich. He became a member of the executive board in January 1993 and was Swiss Re's chief executive officer from 1997 to 2002, succeeding Lukas Mühlemann.[2] During this period, Swiss Re introduced important new products such as Insurance Linked Securities, which enable risk-transfer to the capital markets. He was executive vice chairman of the board of directors from 2003 to 2006 and vice chairman from 2007 to April 2009. He was nominated chairman with effect from 1 May 2009, replacing Peter Forstmoser.[3] Kielholz has been a member of the board of directors of Credit Suisse Group AG from 1999 to May 2014. He was chairman of the bank's board of directors from 2003 to 2009.

Because the 2008 banking crisis caused rough times, the Swiss Re share price slipped into the basement after attacks by hedge funds, and the loss of confidence far exceeded the direct financial damage as a result of speculation with inferior subprime papers in America. Kielholz proved nimbleness and convinced Warren Buffett to bail out Swiss Re with an expensive convertible bond. Kielholz was pleased to have "stolen" an option from Buffett to buy back the convertible papers that others didn't get. If he hadn't managed to do that, the Swiss Re shareholders would have suffered from an enormous dilution of capital.[4]

Other Connections

Until mid-2015, Kielholz was also chairman of the European Financial Services Roundtable (EFR), which contributes to the European public policy debate on issues relating to financial services. He is also a member (president in 2006/2007) of the International Monetary Conference (IMC), an association of the largest banks worldwide, and vice chairman of the board of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the world's only global association of financial institutions.

In addition, he is a founding member (in the year 2000) and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Avenir Suisse, a think tank for economic and social issues. From 1998 to 2005, and again since 2009, he has been a member of the International Business Leader Advisory Council (IBLAC), an advisory group to the Mayor of Shanghai composed mainly of the chairs of the board and CEOs of major global corporations. In 2009 he became a member of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which advises the MAS on the country's financial sector reforms and strategies. In 2015 he has been conferred the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) award in Singapore. This national award is given during Singapore's National Day celebrations to recognize individuals for their various forms of merits and service to Singapore.

He also chairs the board of trustees of the Swiss Re Foundation, established in 2012.

Over the decades he has promoted or fired hundreds, if not thousands, of managers at Swiss Re, inevitably creating enemies for himself. Outwardly, there was hardly any information about the background to personnel changes in the higher ranks, also because one did not dare to contradict the strong man in the house and the exit was made in a fair way.[4]

In 2005, Kielholz was elected by the members of the International Insurance Society to the Insurance Hall of Fame, which honours individuals who have exercised substantial influence on the industry for the benefit of society.

Kielholz is a co-founder (1970) of the International St. Gallen Symposium (ISC) at University of St. Gallen and is a member of the board of trustees of the St. Gallen Foundation.

Kielholz enjoys sailing, skiing, tennis, golf, reading, opera, concerts and art. He is chairman of the Zurich Art Society, which runs the Kunsthaus Zürich museum.[5] He has also been a strong supporter of art as an element of corporate culture as expressed through Swiss Re's Art collection which is featured in Swiss Re buildings across the world and includes over 4'000 pieces of modern art.

Kielholz has also been a driving force behind Swiss Re's strong stance on corporate architecture – as expressed by buildings such as Swiss Re's Centre for Global Dialogue, Rüschlikon/Zürich, the building at 30 St Mary Axe, London, ("the Gherkin"), or the "Swiss Re Next" building in Zürich, scheduled for completion in 2017.


Events Participated in

Bilderberg/200315 May 200318 May 2003France
The 51st Bilderberg, in Versailles, France
WEF/Annual Meeting/200421 January 200425 January 2004Switzerland2068 billionaires, CEOs and their politicians and "civil society" leaders met under the slogan Partnering for Prosperity and Security. "We have the people who matter," said World Economic Forum Co-Chief Executive Officer José María Figueres.
WEF/Annual Meeting/200625 January 200629 January 2006SwitzerlandBoth former US president Bill Clinton and Bill Gates pushed for public-private partnerships. Only a few of the over 2000 participants are known.
WEF/Annual Meeting/200923 January 200927 January 2009World Economic Forum
Chairman Klaus Schwab outlined five objectives driving the Forum’s efforts to shape the global agenda, including letting the banks that caused the 2008 economic crisis keep writing the rules, the climate change agenda, over-national government structures, taking control over businesses with the stakeholder agenda, and a "new charter for the global economic order".
WEF/Annual Meeting/201126 January 201130 January 2011Switzerland2229 guests in Davos, with the theme: "Shared Norms for the New Reality".
WEF/Annual Meeting/201225 January 201229 January 2012Switzerland2113 guests in Davos
WEF/Annual Meeting/201323 January 201327 January 2013World Economic Forum
2500 mostly unelected leaders met to discuss "leading through adversity"
WEF/Annual Meeting/201422 January 201425 January 2014World Economic Forum
2604 guests in Davos considered "Reshaping The World"
WEF/Annual Meeting/201620 January 201623 January 2016World Economic Forum
Attended by over 2500 people, both leaders and followers, who were explained how the Fourth Industrial Revolution would changed everything, including being a "revolution of values".
WEF/Annual Meeting/201717 January 201720 January 2017World Economic Forum
2950 known participants, including prominently Bill Gates. "Offers a platform for the most effective and engaged leaders to achieve common goals for greater societal leadership."
WEF/Annual Meeting/201922 January 201925 January 2019Switzerland
WEF/Annual Meeting/202021 January 202024 January 2020World Economic Forum
This mega-summit of the world's ruling class and their political and media appendages happens every year, but 2020 was special, as the continuous corporate media coverage of COVID-19 started more or less from one day to the next on 20/21 January 2020, coinciding with the start of the meeting.
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