Credit Suisse is determined not to be this cycle’s Lehman as it lays out a plan to sell assets, raise capital and cut 9,000 jobs

October 27, 2022, 6:39 PM UTC
Credit Suisse
How much damage could Credit Suisse do?

Credit Suisse Group set out its restructuring Thursday with plans to carve out its investment bank as it seeks to raise capital of about 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.04 billion).

The troubled Swiss bank, which has recently weathered various scandals, said Thursday that it will spin off the investment bank into a separate business under the resurrected CS First Boston name. Credit Suisse also expects to sell a majority of its securitized products group to a consortium led by Apollo Global Management and including Pacific Investment Management Company, or PIMCO. It also plans to cut its cost base by 15%, or 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.52 billion), and reduce headcount by 9,000 through targeted reductions as well as natural attrition.

Credit Suisse has battled comparisons to Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street investment bank that filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2008, the peak of the great financial crisis. Bank executives earlier this month reached out to investors and clients to reassure them about Credit Suisse’s liquidity and financial position, the Financial Times reported. Credit Suisse’s market cap on Thursday was $16.4 billion, far below its more than $22 billion valuation in 2021.

“This is a historic moment for Credit Suisse. We are radically restructuring the Investment Bank to help create a new bank that is simpler, more stable and with a more focused business model built around client needs,” said Ulrich Körner, Credit Suisse CEO, in a statement. 

On Thursday, Credit Suisse also reported a net loss of about 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.03 billion) in the third quarter, compared to a profit of 434 million Swiss francs for the same time period in 2021.

News of the restructuring and Q3 results caused Credit Suisse’s American depositary receipts to plunge by more than 19% Thursday. 

While it set out plans for is investment bank and SPG unit, Credit Suisse was silent on the fate of its U.S. asset management unit, which was widely anticipated to go on the block. A sale of Credit Suisse U.S. Asset Management was expected to generate much interest from private equity firms such as GTCR, Genstar Capital and Reverence Capital Partners, Fortune has reported. A Credit Suisse spokeswoman declined comment beyond the release. 

Credit Suisse said Michael Klein will step down from its board and join CS First Boston as CEO in 2023. Christian Meissner, who has served as CEO of Credit Suisse’s investment bank, is leaving the bank effective immediately. 

Founded in 1856, Credit Suisse is one of Switzerland’s biggest banks. It operates four divisions—wealth management, investment banking, the Swiss bank and asset management—with a presence in over 50 countries. Its stock has plummeted after a series of scandals, notably its connection to the collapse last year of $36 billion investment firm Archegos Capital Management. Credit Suisse was one of several Wall Street banks that traded with Archegos, according to The New York Times. Archegos’s collapse caused about $10 billion of losses at banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura, Reuters reported

Although its current plans target a capital raise of about 4 billion Swiss francs, analysts have estimated that Credit Suisse will ultimately need to build about 9 billion Swiss francs ($9.08 billion) of additional capital to cover restructuring charges, possible additional litigation costs, and potential regulatory headwind. 

To raise capital, Credit Suisse said it would issue new shares to qualified investors and conduct a rights offering for existing shareholders. Saudi National Bank has committed to invest up to 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.16 billion) for a 9.9% stake.

Regarding headcount, the bank plans to have around 43,000 full-time employees by the end of 2025, down from roughly 52,000 at the end of the third quarter.

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