* Credit Suisse promotes de Boissard to co-run investment
* Private bank chair Berchtold, region heads Abbasi,
* Shafir, Meister to co-run private banking unit
* Steps come against backdrop of 1 bln Sfr in additional
* Credit Suisse shares fall 2 pct, underperform sector
By Katharina Bart
ZURICH, Nov 20 Credit Suisse's private
banking arm will swallow its smaller asset management unit and
absorb some investment bank activities, triggering a management
shake-up of those jockeying to succeed its chief executive.
The Zurich-based bank also reinforced its commitment to the
fixed income business, all but abandoned by Swiss rival UBS
. Credit Suisse promoted debt banker Gael de Boissard,
who will co-run its investment bank from Nov. 30 and join its
top management team from next year.
De Boissard will run fixed income and head Europe, the
Middle East and Asia. Eric Varvel, now chief of investment
banking, will run equities and the investment banking
department, which includes corporate finance, as well as
becoming chief executive of Asia-Pacific, the bank said.
At the private banking unit, which looks after the financial
affairs of wealthy clients, current head Hans-Ulrich Meister
will be joined by asset management head Robert Shafir, who is
credited with making his former unit more profitable, though it
is still dwarfed by the private bank and investment bank units.
The changes shuffle the top executives in the running to
succeed Chief Executive Brady Dougan, even as the 53-year-old
American in charge since 2007 seems to have cemented his
position by keeping Credit Suisse focused on investment banking.
"The two names mentioned most often (to succeed Dougan) are
Meister and Shafir. They don't get along, so if one jumps ahead,
then the other one is likely to leave," an industry source who
has worked with both men told Reuters last week.
The succession plan for Dougan has been under scrutiny since
the CEO came under heavy fire when the Swiss central bank pushed
Credit Suisse to raise more capital earlier this year.
The shakeup potentially weakens Meister, a 53-year-old Swiss
retail and corporate banker who has made no secret of his
ambition as he moved swiftly up the bank since joining from UBS
in 2007, but who is seen as scant on international experience.
By contrast, the measures strengthen Shafir, a 54-year-old
American virtually unknown in Switzerland except as Credit
Suisse's highest earner in 2011, when he took home 8.5 million
francs in overall pay.
Credit Suisse said Shafir would take responsibility for all
private banking and asset management operations in the Americas.
Meister will run private banking in Switzerland, Europe the
Middle East, Africa, and Asia, plus all Swiss client businesses.
Meister and Shafir will jointly run securities trading in
Switzerland for corporate and private banking clients, which
will be moved from the investment to the private bank.
Credit Suisse, which recently announced an extra 1 billion
Swiss francs ($1 billion) of cost cuts, said the new structure
should produce further synergies and would also meet regulators'
demands to align legal entities with management structure.
"The changes are due to new regulatory requirement for
systemically important banks such as CS to set up living wills
and contingency plans which separates the Swiss business more
easily from other parts of the business such as the US
business," said Bank Vontobel analyst Teresa Nielsen.
Bank Sarasin said the measures fall short when compared with
UBS, which said three weeks ago it would exit many fixed-income
activities in the face of tough capital rules that make it
harder to turn a profit from trading.
"Today's news looks a little bit like trying to do something
to react on competitor's news from UBS two weeks ago without
having much to say," said Sarasin analyst Rainer Skierka. He
rates Credit Suisse at neutral.
Credit Suisse prides itself on having avoided a government
bailout when UBS took one in 2008, but Dougan has been accused
of squandering the bank's advantage since the financial crisis.
"The total takeover of the Americans," blazed the
widely-read Swiss banking website Inside Paradeplatz, accusing
Dougan of a massive shift away from the bank's Swiss roots in
private banking by boosting the American Shafir.
At 1557 GMT, Credit Suisse shares were 2 percent lower at
21.13 francs, underperforming the broader European banking
sector index, which was down 0.6 percent.
So far this year, Credit Suisse shares have shed 4 percent
compared to a 16 percent rise in the European banking sector
and a 28 percent surge in UBS, much of that rise since
it announced its restructuring last month.
Meister and Shafir will also oversee Solution Partners, a
team of former investment bankers who provide tailor-made
products to the wealthiest clients, typically those with more
than $50 million in assets.
Top executives Osama Abbasi and Fawzi Kyriakos-Saad, who run
Asia Pacific and EMEA, respectively, will leave along with
private banking chairman Walter Berchtold, long seen as among
the candidates to replace Dougan.
The bank did not immediately disclose whether Varvel, who
has worked in several posts in Asia, would move from New York to
Asia as a result of the revamp.
In an unrelated development, the New York attorney-general
is preparing to file a civil lawsuit against the bank for
misleading investors who lost billions of dollars on
mortgage-backed securities, a source told Reuters earlier
Tuesday. [ID: nL1E8MK12B]