Credit Suisse CEO Targets Asia Expansion as Rivals Retreat

  • Credit Suisse plans to double region's pretax profit in 2018
  • Bank has hired for region's investment- and private banks

Credit Suisse's Thiam: Great Time to Invest in Asia

Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam said it’s the “best time” for the Swiss bank to expand in Asia as retrenching competitors make it easier to attract talent.

Thiam, 53, is seeking to cement Credit Suisse’s position as one of the biggest investment banks and wealth managers in Asia at a time when competitors from Barclays Plc to Standard Chartered Plc are cutting jobs. While the CEO last month unveiled deeper cost cuts, to help save least 3 billion Swiss francs ($3 billion) by 2018, Asian operations weren’t affected by the measures.

“That’s always the best time to invest because that’s when we can pick up the best resources at the best possible time,” Thiam said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Rishaad Salamat at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong. “Many offers are in the pipeline, we’re getting top quality people. That gives us strong confidence in growth.”

Swiss rival UBS Group AG is also bulking up its Asian private bank as it seeks to tap the region’s growing ranks of millionaires. Credit Suisse, which is shrinking its securities business to focus on wealth management, wants to more than double pretax profit at the unit to 2.1 billion francs in 2018, with Thiam looking to expand in China and Japan.

Credit Suisse's Thiam: We Have Great Hopes for China

Credit Suisse shares fell 3.6 percent to 13.06 francs at 11:55 a.m. in Zurich, bringing losses this year to about 40 percent. UBS has dropped 26 percent in that period.

The bank has been hiring both at the region’s investment bank and private bank, according to Helman Sitohang, head of Asia Pacific. Credit Suisse now employs 615 client advisers in Asia Pacific, up from 524 at the end of the third quarter, with plans to bring the total number to about 800 people by 2018.

“We’re going to put more capital in the country and the rest of the region as well,” Sitohang said in an interview with Bloomberg Television, commenting on China. “Our target is clear -- to grow and double the profit. We’re well on that track” for the region.

Credit Suisse’s focus on Asia has been questioned amid a global market rout tied to concerns about a cooling Chinese economy and faltering emerging-market growth.

“If there’s one single thing on investors’ minds I would say it’s the slowing of the economies globally as well as here in the region,” Sitohang said. “All of our countries in the region are profitable -- the model we have, a strong private bank and a strong investment bank, is actually working excellent.”

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