French bank Caisse d'Epargne said on Thursday it had named Francois Perol, a senior aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as chief executive of the group which is merging with rival Banque Populaire.
Perol was also named as head of Banque Populaire on Thursday, but will begin as head of the new merged giant only when legislation covering the two institutions is changed sometime between now and the middle of the year.
The merger of Banque Populaire and Caisse d'Epargne, which reported a loss for the first time in its history on Thursday, is expected to create France's second-biggest bank.
"With the arrival of Francois Perol, the Caisse d'Epragne group enters a new period in its tie-up with Banque Populaire and shows its willingness to form the second biggest French bank," chairman Yves Hubert said in a statement.
Perol, whose appointment has caused controversy in political circles because of his relationship wth Sarkozy, is to take over from outgoing head Bernard Comolet on March 2.
Also on Thursday, Caisse d'Epargne said it had made a loss of 2.0 billion euros (2.6 billion dollars) in 2008, largely because of its investment banking unit Natixis which was hit by the global financial crisis.
Perol left the civil service to join investment bank Rothschild in 2005 before returning to be Sarkozy's deputy chief of staff after the French leader won the presidential election of that year.