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Credit Suisse CEO Thiam sees investment bank loss weigh on results
[ZURICH] Tidjane Thiam's final results as Chief Executive Officer of Credit Suisse Group validated his shift to wealth management while again demonstrating the volatility of the investment bank and trading businesses.
A pretax loss of about US$61 million at the investment bank was worse than analysts had expected, while the rebound in profit at the global markets business in the final quarter of the year didn't quite match forecasts. That's been a pattern of Mr Thiam's tenure, where unpredictable earnings at the two have often overshadowed gains in its key private banking unit.
Mr Thiam is presenting a mixed set of numbers after a tumultuous four years in charge, marked by a painful restructuring that tapped shareholders for billions of funds and saw the once-revered Wall Street trading house pare back trading. The Ivorian, after exiting overhaul mode, saw the final months of his tenure sink into tabloid scandal after a feud with his former head of wealth management escalated into a fully-fledged corporate spying scandal, culminating in news of his exit last week.
Mr Thiam's accomplishments include slashing costs, improved trading results and pivoting Credit Suisse to focusing on managing money for the rich, following in the footsteps of a similar strategic move by rival UBS as he sought greater predictability in earnings. His restructuring has been showing signs of bearing fruit before bizarre recent disclosures - executives spied upon, grudges among top managers - forced the board to take action against him in an attempt to stem months of bad press.
"I feel like the machine is turning and producing better and better results," Mr Thiam said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Thursday, striking a confident tone about the start to the year. The first quarter is off to a "flying start," he said.