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(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam said trading conditions improved at the beginning of the year, joining local rival UBS Group AG in sounding a more optimistic tone after several lackluster quarters.
“Volatility has been low but since the beginning of the year we had a rare combination of markets and volatility going up,” Thiam said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Davos. “This is a very good conjunction of markets going up and volatility increasing a little bit, which is helping. The year has started very well but you cannot draw many conclusions from twenty trading days.”
UBS Group AG Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti said earlier this month he expects market volatility to increase this year from the "very low" levels which have hampered trading income and fees.
Credit Suisse is in the final stretch of a three-year restructuring plan focusing the bank on wealth management and investment-banking advisory services while downsizing trading, which caused surprise losses in recent years and has been facing headwinds from historically low volatility. Thiam has slashed the risky assets in its bad bank, while indicating he would like to take more risk in units with higher returns.
The bank may report its third consecutive annual loss when it reports forth-quarter results on Feb. 14, which will include a 2.3 billion-franc writedown related to the U.S. tax reform. While the trading businesses probably remained under pressure, the private-banking units in Asia and the rest of the world may see a lift from rising equity markets. UBS saw clients add about 14 billion francs in wealth management during the quarter.
Thiam said the bank wants to close its strategic resolution unit -- a dumping ground for bad assets -- by the end of this year, which would lift returns of other units.
“The strategy is very clear," he said. “It’s being masked by this SRU, the non-core unit if you wish. When we started, that was bigger than the Swiss bank. We have been depleting it."
--With assistance from Patrick Winters
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