Credit Suisse Taps Ex-BofA Rainmaker to Target Richest Clients

This content was published on October 14, 2020 - 08:04

(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG tapped the former top rainmaker at Bank of America Corp. as it vies with UBS Group AG for ways to get more business out of the richest customers.

The Swiss bank late Tuesday confirmed a Bloomberg report that it’s hiring Christian Meissner to co-run a newly created group connecting entrepreneurs who are clients of its international wealth management unit with the services offered by the investment bank. The former head of investment banking at Bank of America will relocate to Europe from the U.S. and report to Brian Chin, the head of the investment bank, as well as Philipp Wehle, who runs that wealth business.

Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein is simplifying the bank’s complicated structure and partially rolling back initiatives taken under his predecessor Tidjane Thiam and his former top private banker Iqbal Khan. He’s combining investment banking with trading in a business to be renamed global investment bank, while reducing the number of regions in the key wealth management business and working to do more with ultra rich strategic clients.

Deepening relationships with such entrepreneurial clients has evolved into a key focus for wealth managers including rival UBS as competition in private banking intensifies. UBS has set up teams connecting wealth management customers with the different offerings of its investment bank.

UBS Talks

As part of Credit Suisse’s plan, Meissner and Babak Dastmaltschi will run the investment banking advisory group that will do mergers and capital markets deals with customers of the international wealth business. Meissner will also become vice-chairman of the investment bank, a role in which he will originate deals globally.

Meissner left Bank of America in 2018 amid a fierce internal debate as the firm’s most senior leadership reassessed and reined in exposure to some deals. He was in talks last year about joining UBS in a senior role that would have positioned him as potential successor to outgoing Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti, but those discussions fell apart.

Meissner was elected to the board of directors of Julius Baer Group Ltd. in May but has resigned from that role with immediate effect, Baer said late Tuesday.

Born in Austria and educated at Princeton University, he spent his early career at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he climbed the ranks of its equity capital markets business. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. lured him away in 2003, where he helped oversee investment banking operations in Germany and eventually the broader region, including Europe and the Middle East. But his rise was derailed when the firm, dragged down by the U.S. housing market, collapsed in September of 2008 and set off a global financial crisis.

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