Credit Suisse CEO Says He Won't Seek Ivory Coast Presidency

(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam said he has no intention of leaving his job for politics in his Ivory Coast homeland, after speculation that he could be a presidential candidate in 2020.

“My task is not yet completed and I have every intention of continuing” at the Zurich-based bank, Thiam said in an emailed statement on Thursday. “I am both humbled and honored by the encouragement and support I have been shown recently by many of my fellow Ivorians,” but “I am determined not to get involved in politics.”

Ivory Coast is preparing to hold presidential elections in 2020 amid increasing political tension in an economy that’s been one of Africa’s top performers since the end of a five-month post-electoral conflict that claimed thousands of lives in 2011. President Alassane Ouattara in May said a new constitution adopted in 2016 allows him to run again, risking a split in the ruling alliance in the world’s biggest cocoa producer.

Under Thiam, Credit Suisse has undergone a three-year overhaul to focus more on wealth management and scale back volatile trading operations. Revenue and profit rose in the second quarter as the wealth business did better than expected, helping to make up for disappointing results in trading. Thiam said he intends to remain in his post as CEO of Credit Suisse to further oversee the bank’s developments after that period of restructuring.

Thiam took the reins at Credit Suisse in June 2015. A former government minister in the Ivory Coast and McKinsey & Co. consultant, he has spent almost 20 years working at European financial-services companies.

“I am a manager, and I believe that what I have done so far in my life and in my career as an African leading a major global company -- and what I continue to do -- is helpful to the cause of Africa and Africans,” Thiam said.

The bank recently said it plans to buy back about 5.9 billion francs ($6.1 billion) of expensive debt issued to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and Saudi Arabia’s Olayan family after the global financial crisis in another sign of its emergence from restructuring.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.