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The logo of Credit Suisse AG sits on the side of a building in Lugano, Switzerland, on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015.(bloomberg)
(Bloomberg) -- About six months after UBS Group AG decided to merge its wealth management businesses into one super-unit, rival Credit Suisse Group AG is said to be taking a different approach.
The bank plans to split its key international private banking unit into seven regions from four, with each having its own management and greater decision-making power, according to people briefed on the matter who asked not to be identified as the plan is private. An announcement on the reorganization, dubbed “Project Momentum,” could come as soon as this week, they said.
Switzerland’s second-biggest bank is approaching the final phase of a broader three-year overhaul that aims to focus more on wealth management rather than volatile investment-banking services. UBS earlier this year merged its Americas and international wealth units into one business co-led by ex-Commerzbank CEO Martin Blessing and Tom Naratil, saying the move would help shave 100 million francs ($101 million) off its annual costs.
Thiam, 56, created the international wealth-management unit in 2015 after taking over the Zurich-based bank. The wealth business’s adjusted pretax profit has increased 50 percent since then, and is on track to reach a target of 1.8 billion francs ($1.8 billion) by year-end.
The seven regions are Latin America, Brazil, Western Europe, Southern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. It’s not clear whether the separation will lead to a management shakeup at the wealth unit, the people said, adding that the bank expects faster local decision-making will speed growth.
Credit Suisse declined to comment. The bank was little changed as of 12:06 p.m. in Zurich trading and has declined about 12 percent this year, compared with an 11 percent drop for UBS.
Thiam’s regional structure in private banking, which also includes Asian and Swiss units that report separately, has brought Switzerland’s second largest bank some success. In the second quarter, the firm added about 9 billion francs of private-banking assets, while some rivals saw outflows.
Clients of Swiss rival Julius Baer Group Ltd. added new money in the first half at the slowest pace since the end of 2016, while UBS saw outflows in the three months through June.
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