(Corrects attribution in 5th paragraph after Credit Suisse clarification)
By Saeed Azhar and Sumeet Chatterjee
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) is merging its fixed income and equities divisions in Asia Pacific, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters on Tuesday, as the Swiss bank overhauls its global markets businesses.
The changes come as Credit Suisse group CEO Tidjane Thiam, who took up his post last July, doubles down on wealth management, cutting back in investment banking after a slump in revenues to match its peers on capital.
Switzerland’s second-biggest lender said in March it would shave an additional 800 million Swiss francs ($821 million) off costs and cut 2,000 more jobs from its global markets division, bringing the total to 6,000 job losses.
According to the internal memo, Ali Naqvi, who heads the bank’s equities business in the region, will take up a new role in charge of the combined division on Tuesday, reporting to Credit Suisse Asia Pacific Chief Executive Helman Sitohang.
Credit Suisse also appointed Ken Pang, now head of equities derivatives business in the region, as head of all trading functions across fixed income and trading in Asia Pacific, according to a memo from Naqvi.
“As part of our new Asia strategy, the idea is to integrate the businesses a lot more across the bank and that’s something we have been focusing on,” Naqvi told Reuters, saying the new structure would facilitate cross-selling of products.
A Credit Suisse spokesman confirmed the contents of the memo, but declined to comment further.
Under Thiam, Credit Suisse has made Asia its priority region for growth, even as tough financial markets have complicated his restructuring strategy.
The memo said combining the two Asia Pacific businesses would bring together “strong markets offering to better serve our clients, while consolidating our risk-taking capabilities and enhancing our ability to deliver multi-asset solutions”.
Under Naqvi’s leadership, Credit Suisse has seen its revenue from equities in Asia Pacific double with profit improving “significantly”, the memo said, without disclosing details.
Naqvi said the combination of equities and fixed income would also help the bank to have a coordinated coverage of its clients in the private banking business, and generate better products for wealthy investors.
Credit Suisse, which saw an increase in net inflows into its Asia Pacific private banking unit last quarter, plans to hire more staff in the region to build on that momentum, Sitohang said in May.
Two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Credit Suisse’s head of research and sales in China and Hong Kong, Thomas Wong, has decided to leave and will be replaced by Edmond Huang, head of research on China mainland shares.
The combination of the fixed income and equities business in Asia Pacific could see more changes in senior roles at the bank, one of the people said. The people declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David Clarke