SINGAPORE'S DBS Group , Southeast Asia's biggest bank, said on Thursday that Chief Executive Richard Stanley, who was hired in May last year, is suffering from leukemia. Koh Boon Hwee, the bank's chairman, will take charge of the bank during Stanley's three to six months' absence for medical treatment, the bank said in a statement.
DBS shares were suspended from trading on Thursday morning before the announcement and resumed trade around 11.30am. By 11.35am, DBS shares were down 0.8 per cent at $5.17, underperforming a decline of 0.3 per cent in the benchmark Straits Times Index .
Mr Stanley, 48, was hired last year from Citigroup with an aim to expand the bank's reach beyond its two core markets, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The bank said Mr Stanley has been diagnosed with 'acute myelogenous leukemia' and has started undergoing medical treatment in Singapore.
A surgeon at a Singapore hospital, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, told Reuters that acute myelogenous leukemia is a fast-spreading cancer of the blood that requires immediate chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at a later date.
Analysts said the bank's strategy would not change during Stanley's absence because DBS was in defensive posture amid a global economic downturn.
'If he is out of action, then the critical decisions will be delayed until his situation stabilises or DBS finds an alternative,' said David Lum, an analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research.
The bank said Mr Stanley sought treatment for what appeared to be ordinary flu-like symptoms on Monday after experiencing a cough and high fever during the Lunar New Year weekend.
He was hospitalised the following day and his medical condition was confirmed this morning, the bank said, adding that Mr Stanley's illness is treatable.
DBS reports its fourth-quarter results on Feb 13. -- THOMSON REUTERS