Credit Suisse has strong start

Zurich

Credit Suisse on Wednesday was upbeat on prospects for the year ahead, as it enters the last leg of Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam’s three-year overhaul, hoping to put its third straight annual loss behind it. Thiam has been reshaping Switzerland’s second biggest bank by scaling back Credit Suisse’s investment banking business to concentrate on less capital-intensive private banking. But the meltdown of one of the bank’s volatility products last week and two recent U.S. lawsuits over activities before and just after Thiam took charge have raised questions about how far his strategy has taken hold. The bank on Wednesday also disclosed an inquiry into its hiring practices in the Asia-Pacific region. These troubles, combined with pressure from activist investors, have put the bank’s efforts to turn itself into a premier bank for the world’s ultra-wealthy under the spotlight. Credit Suisse has managed faster growth in its wealth management business than rival UBS (UBSG.S), growing assets under management to a record 772 billion Swiss francs ($827 billion) last year while cutting 3.2 billion francs in costs since 2015. Thiam was positive about business in the first few weeks of 2018. “We’ve had half a quarter now, and indications are very positive,” Thiam said. “We’re being quite prudent in the numbers we’ve disclosed here, because markets can change, but the performance so far has been very strong.” In the first six weeks of 2018, the bank had a 10 percent pickup in revenues in its Global Markets trading division and a 15 percent pickup in its Asia-Pacific trading business, as a surge in market turbulence saw activity levels rise.—Reuters

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