The business on: Frederic Oudea, Chief executive, Société Générale

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The Independent Online

The man to whom Jerome Kerviel owes €5bn?

Sort of, though you might argue that Mr Oudea owes the rogue trader too. He got the top job at SocGen two and a half years ago when the former chief executive, Daniel Bouton, felt compelled to respond to investors' fury over the Kerviel affair by giving up some power. Anyway, one imagines Mr Oudea isn't counting on Kerviel finding too much of the $4.9bn the French courts have told him to pay his former employer.

Can SocGen get by without it?

It seems to be doing fine. The bank's latest quarterly profit, announced yesterday, was double the figure for the same period last year and it says it does not need to raise capital.

So tell us about Mr Oudea

Well, if you wanted to design anidentikit member of the French elite, the SocGen boss wouldn't be a bad template. He went to the prestigious Paris lycée Louis Le Grand, before moving to the Polytechnique's engineering graduate school.

Only a poly? That's not so elitist

You've not quite got it. It's not a poly, but the Polytechnique, the training ground for France's business leaders. People call it "X" after the mathematical variable, because it needs no other description. Next, Mr Oudea went to the National Administration School, whose graduates, known as "enarques", include several French presidents.

Was he tempted by politics?

Well, he had a long spell in the French finance ministry, where he worked closely with the then budget minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, so it would have been possible. Instead, he moved into finance, joining SocGen in 1996.

Any failings at all?

Maybe his parenting skills? His fourth child was born right in the middle of the Kerviel scandal, and Mr Oudea admits he didn't spend a lot of time with his newborn son. But actually, he seems disgustingly well-rounded. Outside work, he's a sports lover, a keen skier, and a collector of art – his passion is 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings.