'Drastically reduced' client activity sends Credit Suisse into loss

Zurich (AFP) –


Plunging client activity and difficult market conditions sent Credit Suisse into a net loss of 302 million Swiss francs (273 million euros, $311 million) in the first quarter, the bank said Tuesday.

Switzerland's second largest bank, which is in the midst of a major restructuring programme to focus on private banking and wealth management, had earned a net profit of 1 billion francs in the same period in 2015.

"In the first quarter of 2016 and particularly in January and February, we operated in some of the most difficult markets on record with volumes and client activity drastically reduced," chief executive Tidjane Thiam said in a statement.

Global markets were roiled at the beginning of the year over fears that the Chinese economy, a key driver of global growth in recent years, would slow sharply.

Given the adverse market conditions, Thiam said that Credit Suisse focused on its restructuring programme, and had made "good progress" on cutting costs and shedding jobs.

The bank announced in March it was stepping up its cost cutting effort to 4.3 billion francs and would slash another 2,000 jobs.

Thiam said the bank had already achieved more than half of the 1.4 billion francs in net cost savings it had targeted for 2016, and had let go 1,000 people out of 3,500 planned for the year.

Credit Suisse suffered a net loss of nearly 3.0 billion francs in 2015, which resulted in part from hefty provisions for litigation and charges to restructure its business away from risky investment banking.

Thiam said the bank had substantially reduced risk in the first quarter and its wealth management had delivered "profitable growth".