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'Proud' Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam bows out with profit jump

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
FILE -- In this Nov. 19, 2015 file photo Tidjane Thiam, CEO Credit Suisse, informs the shareholders about a capital increase during an extraordinary general assembly in Bern, Switzerland. Credit Suisse said Chief Executive Officer Thiam is resigning. Thiam will be replaced by Thomas Gottstein, a 20-year veteran of the bank who leads the Swiss unit. (Dominic Steinmann/Keystone via AP)
Tidjane Thiam, outgoing CEO of Credit Suisse. (Dominic Steinmann/Keystone via AP)

Outgoing Credit Suisse (CSGN.SW) chief executive Tidjane Thiam on Thursday said he was “proud” of his record in charge as the bank reported strong annual results.

Net revenue for 2019 rose 7% to CHF 22.4bn (£17.7bn, $22.9bn), which was above analysts’ expectations. Pre-tax profit was CHF 4.7bn, 40% higher than in the prior year and just shy of forecasts.

Return on tangible equity, a key measure of bank performance, was 9% in 2019. That was a touch higher than the 8.8% the market was expecting, according to consensus estimates provided by Credit Suisse. It also means Credit Suisse is on track to hit the bank’s target of 10% this year.

Credit Suisse announced plans to hand CHF 1.7bn back to shareholders through a CHF 1bn share buyback plan and a 5% hike to its dividend.

The strong performance was driven by a good end to the year. Revenue jumped 29% in the fourth quarter and profit surged by 104%.

The results cap Thiam’s five year tenure at the bank. It comes just one day before he is due to leave the top job. The chief executive was forced out last week over a spying scandal that has shocked the world of Swiss banking.

Read more: How a Swiss spying scandal brought down Credit Suisse's boss

Thiam used a statement alongside the results to celebrate his strategy. Thiam started a years-long restructuring to focus Credit Suisse on more traditional wealth management activities and away from stock market trading.

“The restructuring was successful and our performance in 2019, the first full year post restructuring, illustrates how much the bank has changed since 2015,” he said in a statement.

“I am proud of what Credit Suisse has achieved during my tenure. We have turned Credit Suisse around, and our 2019 results show we can be sustainably profitable. I will be an enthusiastic supporter of my colleagues, as they continue to build momentum in the business.”

Thiam thanked Credit Suisse’s staff, clients, and investors for their support and welcomed new Credit Suisse chief executive Thomas Gottstein.

“I have a lot of respect for his qualities as a business leader but also as a person and I know he will take Credit Suisse to the next level,” Thiam said.

Gottstein said he would stick to the strategy set out by Thiam and reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to reaching 10% return on tangible equity this year.

“Our business strategy is expected to remain unchanged, and under my leadership we will adhere to the course set by the board of directors and the executive board in 2015, and that was reconfirmed and renewed in 2019 post the restructuring period,” he said in a statement.