Credit Suisse Executives Make Show of Unity Over Strategy
Credit Suisse Group AG’s top two executives sought to emphasize their unity in a joint interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung, saying they worked closely on the bank’s recent strategy review.
Chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein shrugged off talk of differences following a report in the Financial Times that suggested a growing rivalry between the two men.
“Both sides complemented each other perfectly in this process,” Horta-Osorio, who joined Credit Suisse from Lloyds Bank Plc in April, told the Sunday edition of the NZZ. “For us, the only thing that counts is the facts. We are therefore not interested in such rumors.”
The Financial Times said in September that Horta-Osorio has taken on more executive duties in what unnamed insiders described as a power grab that has diluted Gottstein’s authority.
Thomas Gottstein, a Credit Suisse veteran who became CEO last year, told NZZ that the pair agreed on all the important questions of the strategic review.
“In the selection process for the new members of the executive board, I made a suggestion and we were always of the same opinion as to who would be best suited,” Gottstein was quoted as saying.
Horta-Osorio and Gottstein are bidding to overhaul Credit Suisse after a run of scandals and losses that have seen its shares lose ground to crosstown rival UBS Group AG and triggered a wave of executive defections. This week’s review, which included a plan to exit its prime-brokerage business to focus on less risky wealth management, saw the shares fall as much as 5.8% on the day.
The pair expressed optimism about the future, according to NZZ.
“We now have a solid base, although there is still a lot to be done,” Horta-Osorio said. “For me, this is the first reason to be optimistic.”
The two men said they’re restructuring executive pay in the wake of the Archegos and Greensill scandals. Horta-Osorio said an internal investigation into Greensill was still ongoing.
“We will structure the variable remuneration in such a way that there is no longer any incentive to take excessive risk,” he said. The bank will give details in the first half of next year.
Shares in Credit Suisse have retreated more than 17% this year.
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