Credit Suisse CEO says outflows have reduced ‘very significantly’ as overhaul progresses

Switzerland’s second largest bank Credit Suisse is seen here next to a Swiss flag in downtown Geneva.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Credit Suisse is seeing a sharp reduction in client outflows, as the embattled Swiss lender progresses with its major strategic overhaul, new CEO Ulrich Koerner told CNBC on Wednesday.

The bank in November projected a $1.6 billion fourth-quarter loss after announcing a raft of measures to address persistent underperformance in its investment bank and a series of risk and compliance failures. It also revealed at the time that it had continued to experience substantial net asset outflows.

“The outflows, as we said, have reduced very significantly, and we are seeing now money coming back in different parts of the firm,” Koerner said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

As part of the overhaul, Credit Suisse shareholders in November greenlit a $4.2 billion capital raise, including a new private share offering that will see the Saudi National Bank become the largest interest holder, with a 9.9% stake.

Koerner said the transformation towards a “new Credit Suisse” was going well.

Credit Suisse CEO says outflows have reduced ‘very significantly’ as overhaul progresses

“We laid out a very clear plan, and we talked to all different stakeholder groups in the last three months, as you would expect,” he said.

“I think the plan, the strategy resonates very much. We are in full execution swing, so I think we are making really good progress.”

Credit Suisse has also reached out to tens of thousands of clients in Switzerland and around the world for feedback, Koerner said.

“That has generated very positive momentum, and I think this is momentum that travels with us through 2023,” he added.

‘Zero concerns’ over Klein business acquisition

Koerner confirmed that the reported departure of 10% of Credit Suisse’s investment bankers in Europe was part of its previously announced plans to cut 2,700 jobs by 2023 and reduce headcount by a total 9,000 by 2025.

As part of the overhaul, Credit Suisse will spin off and rebrand its U.S. investment banking division as CS First Boston. The new unit will be headed by former Credit Suisse board member Michael Klein. Credit Suisse is reportedly on the verge of buying Klein’s boutique investment advisory firm.

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Koerner insisted that he had “zero concerns” about conflicts of interest, stressing that the bank could deal with the situation “in the utmost professional way.”

“I am really looking forward for Michael to join, because Michael is an excellent banker, he is an excellent dealmaker, and he is very entrepreneurial, and that is why I want to go together with him on a journey.”

U.S. investor Harris Associates has more than halved its stake in Credit Suisse since June 2022. Koerner said he could not judge the firm for its timing, but “we will certainly have discussions.”

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