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Update: Credit Suisse to raise US$6b as new boss overhauls strategy

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Credit Suisse announced a complete overhaul of the business on Wednesday along with plans to raise 6 billion Swiss francs (S$8.75 billion) in a share offer to strengthen the bank's capital base and give the Swiss bank's new boss the firepower for his reforms.

[ZURICH] Credit Suisse announced a complete overhaul of the business on Wednesday along with plans to raise 6 billion Swiss francs (S$8.75 billion) in a share offer to strengthen the bank's capital base and give the Swiss bank's new boss the firepower for his reforms.

Chief executive Tidjane Thiam also announced a raft of changes to the bank's top management and said he will float shares in its domestic Swiss bank as he set out his vision for Switzerland's second biggest bank almost four months into the job.

Mr Thiam said he plans to put more focus on managing the fortunes of the world's wealthy, especially in emerging markets, and will reduce the size of its investment bank and cut two billion Swiss francs in annual costs. "Our strategy is a growth strategy; a profitable growth strategy," Mr Thiam said in a statement after the bank also reported a bigger than expected 24 per cent drop in third-quarter net profits. "It will create value for our customers, generate capital, and over time deliver value to our key stakeholders - investors, clients and staff." Pierre-Olivier Bouée, Iqbal Khan and Lara Warner were among the names promoted to Credit Suisse's executive board, while Gaël de Boissard, Hans-Ulrich Meister and Robert Shafir and others will leave the bank's top management team.

Credit Suisse said it plans to cut gross costs by 3.5 billion francs by the end of 2018 and will invest 1.5 billion francs in growth initiatives, to reduce the cost base to between 18.5 billion and 19 billion francs.

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The bank will reduce the number of its staff in Switzerland by a net 1,600 over the next three years, and also cut the number of its investment bank staff in London, Mr Thiam said at a news conference. He estimated 1,800 of its London-based staff do not need to be in such a costly location.

As for new capital the bank aims to raise 1.35 billion Swiss francs from the private sale of shares to a number of investors and a further 4.7 billion via a rights issue offer to existing investors. The bank had been widely expected to raise 5-10 billion francs.

As a result, Mr Thiam said it should lift the bank's common equity capital adequacy ratio to 12.2 percent of risk-adjusted assets, and it aims to keep that ratio above 12 percent. "The strengthening of our capital position today will allow us to be in control of our own destiny and drive a strategy aimed at making Credit Suisse a clear leader in private banking and wealth management," he said.

Mr Thiam also aims to streamline the bank by creating three geographic divisions - a Swiss universal bank, Asia Pacific and International wealth management - and two investment banking divisions - global markets and investment banking and capital markets.

He also intends to reduce the capital used by CS's investment bank. That will mainly be in its macro businesses, where the bank plans to reduce its risk-weighted assets by 72 per cent by the end of this year.

Meanwhile Mr Thiam aims to float between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the domestic Swiss bank by the end of 2017, which he said will help it consolidate the Swiss banking industry.

REUTERS

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