Thiam gets to work at Credit Suisse as new team takes shape

Wed Jul 1, 2015 12:49pm EDT
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By Joshua Franklin and Katharina Bart

ZURICH (Reuters) - Tidjane Thiam put his stamp on Credit Suisse CSGN.VX on his first day as chief executive on Wednesday, starting to build his top team and telling staff the Swiss bank needed a strong balance sheet to help it through rough times.

Investors are optimistic that Thiam, 52, will successfully switch Credit Suisse's focus to lucrative Asian wealth management and shrink its cash-intensive investment bank.

Many also expect him to tap the market for cash and Thiam told staff in a memo that the bank needs to be able to generate its own capital and a strong capital base.

"We will need a strong balance sheet that allows us to withstand adversity, while continuing to invest in the future," Thiam said in the memo that was seen by Reuters.

A spokesman confirmed the contents of the memo.

Choosing what the bank will do and where it invests its cash will be a focus in the weeks and months ahead, Thiam said, adding he would determine the strategy later this year.

To help implement the new roadmap, his long-time associate Pierre-Olivier Bouee will be chief of staff.

Bouee left British insurer Prudential (PRU.L: Quote) around the same time as Thiam. Both men are French speakers and have worked at consulting firm McKinsey.   Continued...

Tidjane Thiam speaks during a Credit Suisse news conference in Zurich, March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann