Exclusive: Credit Suisse looks to speed up cuts as revenue outlook worsens

ZURICH, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) is accelerating cost cuts announced just weeks ago, Chairman Axel Lehmann said on Friday, as client outflows and a slowdown in activity weigh on the Swiss bank’s revenue outlook.

“We are really doubling down on the execution,” Lehmann said in a TV interview with Bloomberg a day after Reuters cited sources as saying the embattled bank was looking for ways to speed savings.

Credit Suisse said in October it intends to reduce its cost base by around 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.67 billion) to about 14.5 billion in 2025.

“We are definitely exceeding 1.2 billion up until the end of next year. So we try to front-load and not back-load the implementation,” he said.

The cost savings are likely to involve more job cuts than previously announced for the first wave of reductions, including in its mainstay wealth business, according to the sources, who asked to remain anonymous because the discussions are private.

Credit Suisse is cutting about 5% of its private banking headcount in the Asian financial hub of Hong Kong, two of the sources said, targeting mainly mid and junior level bankers, in cuts that go deeper than reductions outlined before.

Credit Suisse declined to comment on job cuts in the Hong Kong private banking business.

“As previously outlined, the bank is already making strides with these cost-reduction activities, following a clear execution roadmap,” the bank told Reuters on Thursday.

It had said it would eliminate 2,700 jobs starting in the fourth quarter as it scales back its scandal-hit investment bank to increase its focus on wealth and asset management.

However, the loss-making bank has seen clients pull 6% of assets under management in the six weeks through Nov. 11, a drain that had led to the liquidity at some of its entities drop below regulatory requirements. The outflows also hit revenue.

Client outflows have partially reversed and very few clients have left entirely, Credit Suisse Chairman Axel Lehmann told a Financial Times conference on Thursday.

Credit Suisse shares fell to a fresh record low on Thursday nearing the offer price of the 2.24 billion Swiss franc rights issue needed to help stabilise its finances.

The fresh round of private banking cuts signals challenges facing Credit Suisse as it shifts towards banking for the wealthy, after vowing to ramp up wealth management globally.

Two sources said the cuts in the Hong Kong private banking team mainly involved those associated with the China wealth management business.

Credit Suisse’s other wealth hub in Asia is in Singapore.

In all, the bank said in October, it plans to cut 9,000 jobs of the 52,000 it had at the time.

($1 = 0.9376 Swiss francs)

Editing by Elisa Martinuzzi, Michael Shields and Alexander Smith

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