January 22, 2018 / 9:06 PM / 2 months ago

Activist RBR pushes for IT shakeup at Credit Suisse

ZURICH, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Swiss hedge fund operator and Credit Suisse investor RBR Capital Advisors has shifted its focus to shareholder activism and wants Switzerland’s second-biggest bank to push through a technology revamp.

“After almost 15 years of operations, we have decided to close our RBR European Long Short Funds and focus our activities on activist investing,” the group run by financier Rudolf Bohli said in a statement posted on its website.

RBR — which has proposed breaking up Credit Suisse, whose management dismisses the need for such a radical step — had flagged such a move in December.

The Financial Times said at the time RBR may close two long-short equity funds and redirect investments into the special situations fund which has invested more than 100 million Swiss francs in Credit Suisse. RBR had in total around 250 million francs in investments.

In a mail to investors seen by Reuters that included the line “Let’s make Credit Suisse great again”, RBR said Credit Suisse’s flagship wealth management business had too many staff in support functions and external contractors.

“We have proposed a simple solution to solve this problem: build a new IT platform on a green field and gradually transfer all existing customers to the new platform,” it said.

To date, Credit Suisse’s board and management have instead pursued a “path of small gradual improvement”, it added, saying the bank risked falling behind rivals.

RBR said it was convinced it was proposing the right strategy to transform Credit Suisse in the digital age. “The value creation potential is enormous and goes far beyond the doubling of the share price, which we initially communicated,” it added.

UBS, for instance, is spending 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.04 billion) to standardise its IT platform.

Credit Suisse declined to comment.

$1 = 0.9621 Swiss francs Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne and Oliver Hirt, Writing by Michael Shields; Editing by Adrian Croft

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