Credit Suisse separates its asset management unit: New CEO also coming; moves made as part of Greensill Capital fallout

Credit Suisse Group will split its asset management division into a separate unit with a new CEO, following the fallout of its relationship with collapsed firm Greensill Capital.

The bank also warned of possible financial hits, reputational damage and loss of clients and assets under management related to the situation.

The firm's money management division, Credit Suisse Asset Management, is in the process of liquidating about $10 billion in supply chain finance funds, for which assets were originated and structured by Greensill Capital.

The bank announced March 17 alongside its annual report that, effective April 1, Ulrich Korner will become CEO asset management and a member of the executive board of Credit Suisse Group. The asset management business will also be separated from the international wealth management division and run as a separate unit. This move emphasizes "the strategic importance of the asset management business for the bank and its clients," a news release said. Mr. Korner will report directly to Credit Suisse CEO Thomas Gottstein.

Mr. Korner replaces Eric Varvel, global head asset management, who will work through a transition period and then focus on his other roles as CEO Credit Suisse Holdings (USA) and chairman of the investment bank. Philipp Wehle will continue to lead the international wealth management division.

Mr. Korner was senior adviser to the CEO of UBS Group. Details about any replacement were not immediately available. Mr. Korner's appointment means he rejoins Credit Suisse — he was CEO Switzerland between 2006 and 2008 and first joined the bank in 1998.

"Ulrich Korner is an excellent addition to our leadership team, reinforcing its values and performance culture," Mr. Gottstein said in the news release. "Ueli is a strong leader and strategic thinker with proven ability in business development and profitable growth in asset management, as well as in business transformation. I am very much looking forward to working with Ueli on the executive board, and I am confident that he can greatly contribute to the work to be done in the current situation and will lead the new asset management division to future success."

The move follows a number of changes for the money management division as a result of its relationship with Greensill. The firm has already suspended three executives, including the head of asset management for Switzerland and EMEA, following news that it would liquidate four supply chain finance funds.

The parent bank has also already said it expects to incur a charge related to Greensill's failure and that it has recovered $50 million of a $140 million bridge loan provided to Greensill last year.

However, the annual report and a separate compensation document by Credit Suisse, also published March 17, detailed further information on the fallout of Greensill's collapse.

"We continue to analyze these matters, including with the assistance of external counsel and other experts. The board of directors has also initiated an investigation of these matters," the report said.

It noted that a number of regulatory investigations and actions have been initiated or are being considered, including by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as FINMA. Further, "certain investors have already threatened litigation and, as this matter develops, we may become subject to litigation, disputes or other actions," the report said. Though the ultimate cost of resolving the Greensill-related issues may be material to Credit Suisse's operating results, the bank also warned that it "might also suffer reputational harm associated with these matters that might cause client departures or loss of assets under management," the report said.

Credit Suisse's compensation committee is monitoring developments related to the supply chain finance funds closely and will determine whether to use clawback provisions on various compensation awards, the group's compensation report said.

"The payout and vesting of variable compensation of a number of senior employees involved in these matters, up to and including executive board members, has been suspended as a measure to ensure that we can reconsider the variable compensation for 2020 and are able to apply malus or clawback, if appropriate," the document said.

Credit Suisse had 440.3 billion Swiss francs ($498.6 billion) in assets under management as of Dec. 31.

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