Claude Smadja, the managing-director of the World Economic Forum (WEF), is stepping down after 14 years with the Geneva-based body. He is leaving to set up his own company.
WEF communications chief, Charles McLean, said Smadja's decision had come as something of a surprise, although it was known that he had been thinking of leaving.
He said Smadja would continue to act as a consultant to the WEF: "Claude will become an independent consultant, and we will certainly be one of his main clients."
Smadja's long association with the exclusive business club and its annual meeting in Davos dates back to 1984, when he left Swiss French television to take over control of the WEF's "World Link" publication. He became managing-director in 1996.
Smadja denied that his departure was in any way connected with recent changes and controversies surrounding the WEF. But the appointment of three other directors to form a four-person management team was seen by some as an attempt to sideline him.
"It's true the Forum has been attacked, but I haven't," Smadja said in comments reported by the Swiss French newspaper, "Le Temps". "I wanted to get rid of some of the organisational and operational tasks that went with my job..."
Smadja said changes made to WEF organisation were needed. "The change was necessary. It was vital to consolidate the structure, which had gone from being a sort of exclusive club of experts to being an institution."
Smadja said he now hoped to be able to offer his wide experience to help governments and companies.
swissinfo with agencies
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