Credit Suisse mulls Asia investment bank overhaul

Time for change: A Credit Suisse bank branch in Zurich. The move is another step by the bank to centralise operations and reverse a strategy under former chief executive officer Tidjane Thiam. — Bloomberg

ZURICH: Credit Suisse Group AG is considering moving its Asian investment banking operations into its global securities and advisory business as part of a wider overhaul by chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio to turn around the troubled bank.

Consolidating the advisory business into the global investment bank would mirror a similar move last year to bring the Asian markets activities into that unit, according to people familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified discussing private matters.

The board, which is being advised by McKinsey & Co, is due to meet next week to discuss the bank’s strategic review and a final decision hasn’t yet been made, the people said. The move would mark another step by the bank to centralise operations and reverse a strategy under former chief executive officer Tidjane Thiam of giving greater autonomy to one of the bank’s fastest-growing regions.

Horta-Osorio, brought in to replace Urs Rohner, has pledged a thorough review of the bank’s operations after the Archegos and Greensill Capital scandals. A Credit Suisse spokesman declined to comment.

The lender, which has been fighting defections after the scandals, is reorganising its investment banking team in Asia-Pacific, promoting senior bankers as key veterans step aside or leave amid an effort to build its presence in the region.

In Australia, Credit Suisse has fallen from sixth in the merger and acquisition league tables to 11th this year as its market share shrank to a third of what it was at the end of 2020 and senior dealmakers left to join rivals.

The bank was hit harder than any other by Archegos, which collapsed shortly after the Swiss bank had to freeze a US$10bil (RM42bil) group of funds it had run with Greensill Capital. The scandals marked the culmination of a series of missteps that had raised concerns about the bank’s controls, risk management and corporate culture, and prompted a shakeup at the top.

In recent months the bank has hired executives including David Wildermuth from Goldman Sachs Group Inc in July to become chief risk officer. It’s also been weighing an overhaul of its key wealth management business, consolidating several private banking units to save costs and centralise control.

A move to consolidate the Asia business into the global investment bank would be a further blow to local leadership in the region under Helman Sitohang.

Credit Suisse in 2015 elevated Sitohang to the board as Thiam unveiled a plan to prioritise wealth management over the investment bank and reorganise along geographical lines, with Asia the main focus of growth. — Bloomberg

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