Picture: REUTERS

ZURICH — Credit Suisse Group, the second-biggest Swiss bank, on Tuesday named Gael de Boissard to co-lead its investment bank and said it would merge asset management with the private bank to reduce costs and complexity.

Mr de Boissard would join the executive board and lead the fixed-income business, while current investment bank chief Eric Varvel would head the equities and advisory unit, the Zurich-based company said.

Hans-Ulrich Meister, who headed the private bank, and Robert Shafir, who headed asset management, would lead the combined division, which would also include the Swiss trading business.

Credit Suisse is sticking with a fully-fledged investment bank after UBS, the biggest Swiss bank, announced last month it would cut 10,000 jobs and shrink the capital-intensive debt trading businesses to focus on money management. Credit Suisse said last month it would trim a further Sf1bn ($1.06bn) in annual costs by the end of 2015, adding to a Sf1bn savings programme announced in July and a Sf2bn expense reduction achieved since last year.

The new investment bank’s structure "reflects the importance of the equities and investment banking advisory and underwriting businesses and also recognises the progress we have made in evolving our fixed-income business to the new environment and the strength of this business for Credit Suisse", said CEO Brady Dougan. "This streamlined structure will produce further synergies and help reduce expenses across the bank."

Credit Suisse shares have declined 3.8% this year, compared with a 28% gain for UBS.

The four managers, heading two divisions, will also have regional responsibilities, reducing the number of people on the executive board to nine from 11. Mr Varvel would head the Asia-Pacific region, while Mr de Boissard would serve as the head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, the bank said.

Osama Abbasi and Fawzi Kyriakos-Saad, who headed those regions previously, would leave the company, as would Walter Berchtold, chairman of private banking. Mr Meister and Mr Shafir would continue to head Switzerland and the Americas respectively.

The changes "will better align product development, advice and distribution and they’ll reduce complexity across the bank for the benefit of all our clients and stakeholders", chairman Urs Rohner said on Tuesday. "We’re convinced they’ll help us focus on our strengths in our chosen businesses and markets globally."

Asset management is the smallest of Credit Suisse’s three divisions and contributed 13% to the group’s pretax profit in the first nine months of the year. The bank agreed in 2008 to sell part of its traditional asset-management business, which oversaw about Sf75bn, to Aberdeen Asset Management.

The unit had Sf368.9bn under management at the end of September, of which Sf141.8bn is managed for private-banking clients.

Credit Suisse said in July it would sell two private-equity units to comply with new limits on investments in hedge funds and private-equity funds.

The bank last month also said it would try to sell the exchange-traded funds business, which had Sf16.1bn assets under management at the end of September.

Bloomberg