Credit Suisse CEO runs shy of equity return target, fears 'death spiral'

Swiss bank Credit Suisse Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam addresses a media briefing in Zurich, Switzerland October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

LONDON (Reuters) - Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam said he does not want to commit to a return on equity (ROE) target, because he fears it could lead to a “death spiral” in an uncertain regulatory environment where capital demands are ever increasing.

“Maybe when things are stabilised we can come back to ROE, but until the regulatory framework has landed, and that’s in 2019 with Basel 4, it’s not prudent to have an ROE target,” Thiam told delegates at the FT Banking Summit in London on Tuesday.

“In the end you’re in a death spiral, you’re under have to cut costs...then market yells at you and you cut again and that’s what I call a death spiral,” he said.

Thiam, who took the reins of Zurich-based Credit Suisse in July, announced big restructuring plans on Oct. 21, emphasising a push for growth in wealth management and in Asia.

Alongside raising 6 billion Swiss francs from investors, Credit Suisse will cut 1,600 jobs in its home market and relocate up to 1,800 positions from London where Thiam said costs were particularly high.

Reporting By Anjuli Davies, editing by Sinead Cruise