Credit Suisse Group
|Credit Suisse Group|
|Key People||Axel Lehmann, Chairman; Ulrich Koerner, CEO|
|Products||Retail and investment banking and brokerage|
Credit Suisse Group, founded more than 160 years ago, is Switzerland's second-largest financial-services company behind Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). Beginning in the late 1980s the group rapidly acquired a number of large financial-services companies in Switzerland and abroad but later streamlined its operations. It was also hurt by the U.S. sub-prime mortgage meltdown in 2007.
In 2023, Credit Suisse was acquired by UBS and merged into UBS Group AG with the combined entity operating as a consolidated banking group. The acquisition took place after an agreement in March 2023 for an emergency brokered rescue by the Swiss government, in which it guaranteed against potential losses from Credit Suisse assets. Credit Suisse was weakened by years of losses and management failures that ranged from a spying scandal to a multibillion hit from the collapse of Archegos Capital Management in 2021.
As of 2021, Credit Suisse had AUM of around 1,614 billion and 50,110 employees.
The company's investment banking and wealth management operations are global, but the commercial banking operation in the United States is largely confined to its New York branch, which held about $72 billion in assets in 2013.
Since 2021, Credit Suisse's activities have been split into four divisions: wealth management, asset management, Swiss banking, and its investment banking arm.
Credit Suisse, then called Schweizerische Kreditanstalt, was founded in 1856 by the Swiss railway pioneer Alfred Escher. It financed the construction of the Gotthard tunnel and the development of large industrial companies and insurance giants, including Swiss Life and Swiss Re. It has played a major role on the international stage, especially since taking over the US investment bank First Boston in 1990. Credit Suisse is one of 30 banks globally deemed too big to fail, meaning it must set aside more cash in case of a crisis.
In 2002 Credit Suisse Group (CSG) was streamlined into three business units: corporate/investment banking, asset management and private banking. Four years later the group reorganized again, merging the three branches under a single Credit Suisse umbrella and dropping the tarnished Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) brand. Later in 2006 CSG sold insurance and pensions arm Winterthur, which it had acquired in 1997, to French financial services giant AXA for $10 billion cash.
In 2021 it was reorganized into its current four units: wealth management, asset management, Swiss banking, and investment banking.
Losses and Crises
In late April 2008, CSG posted a net loss for the first quarter of $2.1 million (CHF2.15 billion), almost triple analysts' expectations of around CHF857 million, on investment writedowns of $5.3 billion. By contrast, CSG recorded a profit for the first quarter 2007 of CHF2.8 billion.
Earlier in April, Credit Suisse Group announced it would cut 500 jobs in administration and investment banking in anticipation of the first quarter loss. Dougan had already cut 500 jobs from investment banking in January 2008 and another 320 late last year. Credit Suisse had announced one month earlier that it had been forced to revise the securities valuations in its Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) investments due to "intentional misconduct" by some of its traders. Credit Suisse's total valuation reduction on the CDO securities now totals $2.65 billion.
In November of 2012, Credit Suisse was sued by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman for making fraudulent misrepresentations of the risks associated with $93.8 billion in mortgage-backed securities issued in 2006 and 2007, and creating damages of $11.2 billion.
In May of 2014, the bank admitted to helping U.S. taxpayers hide offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service. In a plea deal, Credit Suisse agreed to pay a total of $2.6 billion – $1.8 billion to the Department of Justice for the U.S. Treasury, $100 million to the Federal Reserve, and $715 million to the New York State Department of Financial Services. Credit Suisse became the most prominent bank to plead guilty in the United States since Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1989, and the largest to do so since the Bankers Trust in 1999.
In late 2021 and early 2022, Credit Suisse underwent a $440 million reorganization that included closing its prime brokerage unit and reducing its investment banking services after huge losses tied to the collapse of the hedge fund Archegos and the financial services firm Greensill, and a number of scandal-linked penalties.
In February 2022, Credit Suisse became the first Swiss bank in Swiss history to face criminal charges. It was required to pay $22 million in fines in June 2022 for processing funds for a Bulgarian drug ring between 2004 and 2008. 
A massive leak in February 2022, from Credit Suisse exposed 30,000 accounts detailing nearly $109 billion of money "involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and other serious crimes."
Following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in early 2023, Switzerland's financial regulator said it was “closely monitoring” Credit Suisse along with other Swiss lenders. Credit Suisse was forced to admit it had “material weaknesses” in its reporting and controls procedures and that a prolonged wave of customer outflows had not yet reversed.
- Credit Suisse Group. SourceWatch.
- UBS completes Credit Suisse acquisition. UBS.
- UBS Completes Credit Suisse Takeover to Create Bank Titan. Bloomberg.
- Credit Suisse 2021 Annual Report. Credit Suisse.
- Mixed Signals in a Corporate Felon's Punishment. The New York Times.
- Credit Suisse Banking On Restructure Revamp. Barron's.
- Credit Suisse Investment Banking firm profile. vault.com.
- Credit Suisse writes off $5.3 billion. International Herald Tribune.
- Credit Suisse Cutting 500 Jobs as Client Demand Wanes. Bloomberg.
- Press Release. Credit Suisse.
- A.G. Schneiderman Sues Credit Suisse For Fraudulent Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities. Attorney General.
- Credit Suisse Waits for $11 Billion Answer in N.Y. Fraud. Bloomberg.
- U.S. Announces Credit Suisse Guilty Plea. The Wall Street Journal.
- Credit Suisse fined $2.6bn in US tax evasion case. Switzerland News.
- Credit Suisse, Burned By Archegos And Greensill Scandals, Shifts Focus To Wealth Management In Overhaul. Forbes.
- Landmark Credit Suisse money laundering trial opens. Financial Times.
- Credit Suisse is fined for helping a Bulgarian drug ring launder money, a court said. The New York Times.
- Revealed: Credit Suisse leak unmasks criminals, fraudsters and corrupt politicians. The Guardian.
- How Credit Suisse turned Switzerland’s banking industry into a national embarrassment. The Telegraph.