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Swiss role for Prudential's Thiam

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 02:03

Credit Suisse is bringing in Tidjane Thiam, the head of British insurer Prudential, as its new chief executive to help drive the Swiss bank's push into wealth management in emerging markets. As David Pollard reports, there have been calls for the current CEO Brady Dougan to quit for the past year.

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Markets love a winner. Credit Suisse shares haven't deserved that title for several years. The bank though is betting its money that this man does. Tidjane Thiam joins the Swiss giant after a successful six-years at UK insurer, Prudential. When its shares more than doubled in value. Commerzbank global financial economist Peter Dixon. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER DIXON, GLOBAL FINANCIAL ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK, SAYING: ''He is generally a safe pair of hands. He hasn't really tried to do anything flashy, anything particularly exciting, which I guess is what's required in the insurance industry. I guess that we're in an era now where banks want to be seen as fairly boring, fairly stable institutions, so in that sense the safe pair of hands option is something that speaks very much in his favour.'' His appointment propels into banking a career that's already made the former Ivory Coast government minister the first black CEO of a FTSE 100 company. He's thought likely to push Credit Suisse further towards wealth management and a bigger focus on Asia. His predecessor, Brady Dougan, was one of a select few banking CEOs to survive the financial crisis relatively unscathed. But came under fire for sticking with investment banking - exactly as it fell from grace - and for presiding over Credit Suisses's 2.5 billion payout to regulators for helping Americans evade taxes. Thiam's failure to overcome a shareholder rebellion when trying to take over Asian insurer, AIA, in 2010 means he too has form. And faces a tighter, tougher regulatory environment. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER DIXON, GLOBAL FINANCIAL ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK, SAYING: ''He doesn't come with an unblemished record. And of course he doesn't have an awful lot of experience of banking either, which could go either way depending on how things pan out. I think the jury is still out.'' Prudential shares were down from their highs on the news, despite the insurer announcing a 14 per cent rise in operating profit. Credit Suisse shares bounced around 9 per cent. A role reversal Credit Suisse no doubt hopes points to more upside to come.

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Swiss role for Prudential's Thiam

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 02:03