Credit Suisse said to speed up, deepen investment bank cuts

The Credit Suisse logo is seen at offices in Milan, Italy, in this March 9, 2016 file photo.
The Credit Suisse logo is seen at offices in Milan, Italy, in this March 9, 2016 file photo.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Credit Suisse Group is planning to speed up and deepen cuts to the investment bank, five months after it announced an overhaul, said a person with knowledge of the discussions.

Switzerland's second-biggest bank may disclose as soon as Wednesday (March 23) that it is accelerating cutbacks to trading businesses, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The Zurich-based lender also might update investors on first-quarter earnings, after rival Wall Street banks warned their shareholders about a drop in revenue from trading and dealmaking.

Chief executive officer Tidjane Thiam, who presented a strategy shift in October, has struggled to restore investor confidence as he restructures businesses to meet tougher capital rules and bolster profitability amid a global trading slump. While he has staked much of his strategy on growth in managing money for the rich and scaled back investment-banking businesses, the shares fell 34 per cent this year.

Credit Suisse spokesman Nicole Sharp declined to comment.

The world's biggest banks are struggling with record-low interest rates, slumping commodity prices, cooling emerging-market growth and, in some cases, mounting fines from past misconduct. Market volatility at the start of this year has further eroded what is normally Wall Street's strongest quarter, when clients including corporations and investors adjust their strategies.

Deutsche Bank and UBS Group told shareholders last week that challenging market conditions are undermining their efforts to improve earnings. Mr John Cryan, Deutsche Bank's co-CEO, said he does not expect Germany's biggest bank to post a profit this year as it tries to overhaul its business, scaling back some operations.

In the US, firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup have warned in recent weeks that the turbulent markets are battering their Wall Street operations by prompting companies to delay share offerings and investors to pull back on trading.

Credit Suisse has been reducing its macro trading business, where it is closing much of its operations in Europe, and in prime services, the business that caters to hedge funds. In an October presentation, it identified these two units as not recouping the cost of capital.

Under the overhaul, Mr Thiam is seeking to more than double pre-tax profit by 2018, which he wants to achieve by shrinking the volatile trading business and building up wealth management in Asia. He said last month he would accelerate staff reductions, with 4,000 jobs cut by the end of this year, citing a "challenging" environment.