Credit Suisse to Raise $4 Bln, Retreat from Wall Street Amid Massive Loss

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Credit Suisse to Raise $4 Bln, Retreat from Wall Street Amid Massive Loss
Credit: © Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith -- Under-fire Credit Suisse Group (SIX: CSGN ) moved to strengthen its balance sheet on Thursday with a landmark capital increase and the sale of one of its most important trading divisions.

The troubled Swiss lender, which has seen its value collapse this year after a long period of underperformance, said it will raise 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.05 billion) and largely withdraw from investment banking, focusing instead on its Wealth and Asset Management activities and its domestic Swiss operations. 

Saudi National Bank has agreed to buy up to 1.5 billion francs of new shares, taking a 9.9% stake. 

At the same time, the bank will aim to cut its risk-weighted assets by 40% over the next three years, starting with the sale of its securitized products business to a consortium led by Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO ) and Pimco. It also wants to spin off its investment banking business within three years under a revived Credit Suisse First Boston brand.

"This is a historic moment for Credit Suisse," said chief executive Ulrich Körner. "We are radically restructuring the Investment Bank to help create a new bank that is simpler, more stable, and with a more focused business model built around client needs."

The measures are the culmination of a long period of decline by the once proud lender, which for 20 years has been one of the biggest presences on Wall Street. As with rival Deutsche Bank (ETR: DBKGn ), its ambition to compete in global investment banking led to overreach and repeated costly errors, many of them involving poor risk management. The bank lost billions in lending to the collapsed hedge fund Archegos Capital Management and the factoring operations of Lex Greensill.

The bank announced its measures on the same day that it posted a loss of over 4.03 billion francs for the third quarter and nearly 13 billion francs of outflows from the key Wealth and Asset Management units.

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