| Walter Kielholz |
|Born||Walter Bruno Kielholz|
February 25, 1951
|Alma mater||University of St. Gallen|
|Member of||Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Institute of International Finance, Rive-Reine-Conference/Guests|
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.
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. 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. 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.
Until mid-2015, Kielholz also served as 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 served as 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.
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. 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/2003||15 May 2003||18 May 2003||France|
|The 51st Bilderberg, in Versailles, France|
|WEF/Annual Meeting/2020||21 January 2020||24 January 2020||World 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, coinciding with the start of the meeting.|