Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG reported a second straight pretax loss at the securities business it’s overhauling as Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam offloaded much of the high-risk assets that have triggered more than $700 million in losses since last year.

Thiam reduced the unit’s inventory of collateralized loan obligations by 81 percent and its portfolio of distressed corporate bonds by 79 percent from the end of 2015 while cutting 1,000 jobs in the division, according to a presentation. The global markets unit, which contains Credit Suisse’s trading activities outside of Switzerland and Asia-Pacific, posted a first-quarter pretax loss of $649 million, compared with an $891 million profit a year earlier.

Thiam, less than a year in the job, is seeking to reclaim investor confidence after losses on risky assets at the markets unit frustrated his efforts to overhaul the lender and shift its focus to Asia and wealth management. Shares in the bank have slid 35 percent so far this year, fueled in part by missteps at businesses the CEO once defended from the view they were “ugly ducklings.”

“We think the market will like the run-down of non-core positions and the general downsizing,” UBS analysts led by Daniele Brupbacher wrote in a note to clients. Still, the business produced a “worse than expected” loss, they wrote.

While Thiam pushed through $8 billion of “business exits,” the markets unit’s risk-weighted assets remained the same as the year-earlier period at $73 billion, the presentation shows. That’s because of an increase in operational risk, capital that regulators require banks hold for potential losses from issues such as human error and unauthorized trading. The bank said its looking to cut the unit’s RWAs to $60 billion this year.

Revenue at the global markets unit, overseen by Timothy O’Hara since last year, tumbled 62 percent to $972 million from a year earlier while operating expenses fell just 6 percent. The slump in sales reflected “asset price volatility, market illiquidity and reduced client activity,” according to the presentation.

Four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News estimated on average that the global markets unit would make a pretax loss of about 393 million Swiss francs ($404 million) for the quarter. The unit had $403 million of mark-to-market writedowns in the quarter, including $357 million from the illiquid trading assets.

The investment banking and capital markets unit, which houses Credit Suisse’s advisory and underwriting businesses, posted a pretax loss that more than doubled to $104 million from a year earlier, the presentation shows. While revenue stayed about the same, the lender took a charge of $55 million for soured debts, including $44 million on loans to oil and gas clients.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donal Griffin in London at dgriffin10@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, Simone Meier

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