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Credit Suisse posts loss in March quarter due to volatile market conditions

BBR Staff Writer Published 11 May 2016

Swiss banking major Credit Suisse has swung into loss in the first quarter of this year, as challenging market conditions weighed on its revenues.

CS office

Switzerland's second biggest bank posted a pre-tax loss of CHF302m ($311m) for the March quarter compared to a profit of CHF1.05bn in the same quarter a year earlier.

Losses at its investment banking and capital markets units increased to CHF103m ($105m) in the first quarter from CHF47m ($48m) in the year-ago quarter.

Credit Suisse chief executive officer Tidjane Thiam said: "In the first three months of the year, we have remained focused on executing our strategy with three clear priorities: accelerating our cost and headcount reduction efforts, delivering profitable growth in wealth management focused divisions and maintaining our strong capital position.

"We have been able to make good progress in all of these areas against an extremely challenging market backdrop."

The bank said that it reached more than half of the CHF1.4bn ($1.4bn) of net cost savings targeted for 2016 in the January-March quarter. It expects to meet or exceed CHF 1.7bn ($1.7bn) in gross cost savings target by year-end 2016.

As of 10 May, it has eliminated 3,500 jobs of the targeted headcount reduction of 6,000 by end-2016.

Due to the cost saving measures, the lender's operating expenses fell 3% to CHF4.9bn ($5bn) in the March quarter on year-over-year basis.

The banker significantly de-risked its global markets activities by cutting distressed debt exposure sharply by 79% and reducing collateralised loan obligations (CLO) positions by 81% on a sequential basis.

The measures are aimed at enabling its global markets unit to achieve target of reducing maximum quarterly loss in an adverse scenario by about 50%, it said.

Credit Suisse's common equity tier 1 ratio, a measure of its financial strength, remained unchanged at 11.4 in the quarter.

Credit Suisse in a statement said: "In the first quarter of 2016 and particularly in January and February, we operated in some of the most difficult markets on record with volumes and client activity drastically reduced.

"While we saw tentative signs of a pick-up in activity in March and then in April, subdued market conditions and low levels of client activity are likely to persist in the second quarter of 2016 and possibly beyond."

Image: Credit Suisse London office: Photo courtesy of Credit Suisse.