EUROPE - Christian Clausen, Nordea's head of asset management and life, is to take over from Lars Nordström as president and group chief executive.

Nordea said Nordström would step down at the company's next annual meeting on April 13 next year.

Clausen, 51, has been a member of group executive management since 2001. His current position includes the responsibility for Nordea's Private Banking activities and the Savings and Wealth Management area.

"Lars Nordström is one of the most respected and experienced bankers in Northern Europe and he is doing an impressive job as CEO of Nordea," said chairman Hans Dalborg.

"We have seen a successful transformation of Nordea into a focussed and performance-oriented organisation delivering consistent and strong results. With the future organic growth strategy in place the time has now come to present our succession plan. We have had a very thorough selection process also including external search and we are convinced that by appointing Christian Clausen we have found the most qualified and best-suited candidate to succeed Lars."

Nordström added: "Having realised most of our targets well ahead of our timetable and with a strong team and the future strategy in place I find it natural to step down next year.

"I know Christian from more than six years of very close cooperation. With his broad experience as well as both personal and professional skills he is an excellent choice."

Clausen holds a Master of Science in Economics and he joined Privatbanken as Managing Director in Privatbørsen in 1988.

From 1990 he has held managing director positions of first Unibørs Securities and later Unibank Markets. In 1998 Christian Clausen became a member of the Executive Board in Unibank.