• CEO and chairman say CS could buy Swiss private banks
  • Company to invest $400 Million in Switzerland, media report

Credit Suisse Group AG, the Swiss Bank that unveiled a major shift in strategy last week to focus on wealth management over investment banking, plans to make acquisitions and invest about $400 million in Switzerland in the next few years, Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam and Chairman Urs Rohner said in interviews with local media.

The bank invested too little and didn’t give its home market of Switzerland enough attention in recent years, Thiam said in an interview with newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung. A planned partial initial public offering of its Swiss unit will improve awareness of the business and provide currency for acquisitions, Thiam told Finanz und Wirtschaft in an interview published on Saturday.

Credit Suisse will expand in Geneva and French-speaking Switzerland and will target buying private banks that are under pressure and struggling because of increased regulation and the end of bank secrecy, the CEO told Le Matin Dimanche on Sunday.

The comments on the Swiss operations by Thiam and Rohner show the bank expects Switzerland to be a key driver of profit and growth, even as the lender plans to cut 1,600 Swiss jobs or about 10 percent of its staff and authorities crack down on bank secrecy in the Alpine nation. Plans to reduce the bank’s costs by 3.5 billion Swiss francs ($3.6 billion) will be offset by investments of 1.5 billion francs to keep it competitive.

“Competitiveness for a company is like breathing for a human,” Thiam told Le Matin Dimanche.

Restructuring costs and writedowns mean 2016 will be a “bad year” for the bank, but signs of improvement are expected in 2016 and 2017 while “2018 should be a good year,” Thiam said.

Rohner told Swiss Radio SRF1 that the bank will invest 400 million Swiss francs in its home country and that he expects the nation’s bank industry to expand. Credit Suisse will take over fund management for smaller banks struggling to deal with increased regulation, he said.

As part of its planned overhaul, Credit Suisse will expand wealth management services in Asia. The bank will increase its risk management budget in the region and hire 97 people for the unit, Thiam told Le Matin Dimanche.

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