Credit Suisse boss under pressure despite outsmarting rival

Mon Dec 3, 2012 6:22am EST
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By Katharina Bart

ZURICH (Reuters) - Credit Suisse CSGN.VX boss Brady Dougan has outmaneuvered an internal rival with his recent revamp of the Swiss bank and management shake-up but is still on borrowed time, senior banking sources say.

Dougan might have played his last hand with an overhaul that strengthens the investment bank where the American made his career before taking over as chief executive in 2007 while also promoting two more executives to join the race to succeed him.

"The latest reorganization shows clearly that Dougan remains under immense pressure," a former high-ranking Credit Suisse banker says. "He will be replaced as soon as a suitable successor is found."

The Credit Suisse reorganization contrasts with hometown rival UBS UBSN.VX, which is abandoning most fixed-income activities in favor of its flagship private bank as tough Swiss capital rules begin eating into investment banking profits.

Instead, Dougan, who has long defended the unit he used to head from calls for a dramatic scaleback, announced a raft of measures that confirm his desire to keep Credit Suisse at the top table of investment banking.

In an affirmation of his commitment to the fixed income business that UBS is shrinking, Dougan promoted French debt banker Gael de Boissard as investment bank co-head alongside American Eric Varvel, who will also run the Asia-Pacific region.

The asset management business will be integrated into the private banking unit and its American head Robert Shafir appointed co-head alongside private banking boss Hans-Ulrich Meister.

Meister originally pushed for the asset management integration to strengthen his own unit, but Dougan outfoxed him by stalling the move and making his ally Shafir joint head, according to several sources close to the bank.   Continued...

Swiss bank Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan speaks during the Swiss Banking Global symposium in Zurich, November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer