Credit Suisse to shed 6,500 jobs this year after 2016 losses

Switzerland’s second-biggest bank slips further into the red with net loss for 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 10:25pm

Credit Suisse will cut up to 6,500 more jobs in 2017, as Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam pushes ahead with a major restructuring which he said yesterday might now no longer include floating the bank’s Swiss business.

The plan to spin off a minority stake in the Swiss banking division was partly to raise cash to bolster the group’s capital, but this improved more than expected in the fourth quarter.

The additional job cuts come after Switzerland’s second-biggest bank reported a 2.44 billion Swiss franc (US$2.43 billion) net loss for 2016. But Thiam struck an optimistic tone for the year ahead.

“We are now well-placed to capture growth and benefit from improving market conditions as a result of the tough actions we took in 2016,” he told a news conference.

Since taking over just over 18 months ago, Thiam has been on a cost-cutting drive while shifting the business towards wealth management and putting less emphasis on investment banking.

The bank cut a net 7,250 jobs in 2016 and said there would between 5,500 and 6,500 more this year. It employed around 47,000 people at the end of 2016.

Credit Suisse did not specify where the extra cuts would come but said they would include contractors, consultants and staff.

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The 2016 loss – the bank’s second straight year in the red – came largely on the back of a roughly US$2 billion charge to settle US claims the bank misled investors in the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities.

Despite the loss, Credit Suisse shares were up 1.4 per cent by in afternoon trade, ahead of the broader European banking index.

Investors were encouraged by the bank’s better-than-expected 11.6 per cent common equity Tier 1

capital ratio, which is an important measure of balance sheet strength.

“It is the capital that surprised positively,” said Vontobel analyst Andreas Venditti, who has a “hold” rating on the shares.

Credit Suisse has faced questions over its capital levels for years, going back to Thiam’s predecessor, Brady Dougan.

In an effort to strengthen its capital, the bank had announced plans to raise 2-4 billion Swiss francs by selling up to 30 per cent of its Swiss business in an initial public offering.

But there has since been speculation among some analysts and investors that the bank could reconsider selling a stake in the business, considered one of the group’s crown jewels for its profitability.

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Thiam said the bank was still preparing for the initial public offering but left the door open to alternative options to strengthen its balance sheet “if there are ways to reach a more attractive risk/reward outcome for our shareholders”.

“The likelihood (of the IPO) has gone down,” Venditti said.

In wealth management, Credit Suisse saw net outflows in the fourth quarter as clients pulled cash to participate in tax amnesty programmes and it dropped some external asset managers.

Cross-town rival UBS, the world’s biggest wealth manager, also saw net withdrawals in the fourth quarter due to tax amnesty programmes in emerging markets and Asia-Pacific.

Credit Suisse said all its wealth management divisions had seen positive inflows so far this year.

The bank proposed an unchanged dividend of 0.70 Swiss francs per share, in line with market expectations.