Swiss financial services firm Credit Suisse Group (CS), Tuesday, issued a statement on its 2008 annual report and said it entered 2009 with a strong capital position, a robust business model and a clear strategy. The company also said it expects the remainder of its approximately 5,300 planned headcount reductions will take place by the middle of 2009. Separately, Credit Suisse announced its proposals to the Annual General Meeting, being held on April 24.
The company said in the 2008 annual report that its fiscal 2008 performance was negatively affected by the weak global economy and the uncertainty prevailing on the financial markets across the globe. For fiscal 2008, the company had reported a net loss of CHF 8.2 billion.
The company also said that it is reducing its headcount by approximately 5,300 as part of a strategic plan. Of these, 2,600 positions have been eliminated by the end of 2008 and the rest are expected to take place by the middle of 2009. The company also said it is on track to lower costs by CHF 2 billion through the strategic measures.
According to the company, maintaining capital strength remains a key priority. The company's BIS tier 1 capital ratio stood at 13.3 % at the end of 2008. Risk positions continued to be substantially reduced during 2008, and are manageable. The Investment Banking division's risk-weighted assets, which dropped 31% to US$163 billion at the end of 2008, are targeted to decline to US$135 billion by the end of the year.
In Private Banking, the company will continue to invest in growth, both globally and in its Swiss businesses. The company has growth plans in place for all regions and intends to add a significant number of relationship managers to accelerate its asset gathering momentum when markets improve.
Separately, the company said that it is proposing Hans-Ulrich Doerig, currently Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors, for re-election to the Board. Since 2003, he is the Chairman of the Risk Committee. If elected, he will become Chairman of the Board of Directors.
The company has also nominated Walter Kielholz and Richard Thornburgh for re-election to the Board. Kielholz has been a Member of the Board since 1999 and Chairman of the Board and of the Chairman's and Governance Committee since 2003. Kielholz is stepping down as Chairman, but is standing for re-election as an ordinary Member of the Board with no functional duties. Thornburgh has been a Member of the Board of Directors and the Risk Committee since 2006.
Further, the company stated that Urs Rohner, currently Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Credit Suisse, has been proposed for election to the Board. If elected, Rohner will assume the role of full-time Vice-Chairman.
In addition, the company has proposed Andreas Koopmann, Chief Executive Officer of Bobst Group, and John Tiner, Chief Executive Officer of the UK firm Resolution and the former Chief Executive Officer of the UK Financial Services Authority, for election as new Board members.
Credit Suisse also said that its Board is proposing the distribution of a dividend of CHF 0.10 per registered share for fiscal 2008. If the dividend is approved in the Annual General Meeting, it will be paid out on April 30.
Further, the bank said that the Board of Directors is proposing the creation of additional conditional capital of CHF 3.98 million, leaving a new overall total of CHF 4 million, which is equivalent to a total of 100 million registered shares, to maintain strategic flexibility in the future.
The bank's conditional capital was almost entirely used up in connection with the issuance of Mandatory Convertible Securities in October 2008. The Board is also proposing to renew and increase the authorized capital for the financing the acquisition of companies and for the acquisition of companies to a maximum of CHF 4 million, with its availability extended to April 24, 2011.
Looking ahead, Credit Suisse said that it will focus on navigating through the still challenging and changing business environment. The company aims for profitable growth over the business cycles and an improved business mix with a more conservative risk/return profile.
Overall, we have positioned our businesses to be less susceptible to negative market trends if they persist in the coming months and to prosper when markets recover - thus benefiting our shareholders, clients and employees, the company added.
CS closed Monday's trading at $34.01, up $4.12, on a volume of 2.79 million shares.
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