Credit Suisse plans to push ahead with China expansion after the overhaul

By Selena Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Credit Suisse is driving expansion in China, with the country and Hong Kong expected to record the fastest pace of staff growth in Asia, its regional head said, even as the Swiss bank’s turnaround strategy translates into job losses elsewhere.

Beset by years of scandals and losses, Credit Suisse is raising fresh capital for a restructuring that will shed thousands of jobs and shift its focus away from investment banking and toward less volatile wealth management.

As part of the global transformation, Credit Suisse is evaluating its presence in 13 locations in Asia Pacific with the goal of “simplifying” operations in each location, said Edwin Low, chief executive of Credit Suisse, based in Singapore in Asia Pacific Raum, to Reuters, without elaborating.

Low said China and Hong Kong would remain brighter spots, however.

“If I look at the headcount in Asia-Pacific over the next five years, China and Hong Kong will be the biggest growth markets for us,” he said. “It is very clear that the market in China is bigger than in Southeast Asia, Australia or India.”

A September report by Credit Suisse predicted that the number of Chinese millionaires will double by 2026.

As part of its expansion plans in China, Credit Suisse last month entered into an agreement to buy out its Chinese partner in a local securities joint venture, at a time when plans for a global restructuring were being discussed internally.

The move came amid slowing growth in the world’s second largest economy.

“China will have its ups and downs, but we are giving this opportunity to acquire 100% of Credit Suisse Securities with our full commitment, as we know the recovery in China may not be immediate,” Low said.

Aside from applying for an asset license to sell products to its private banking clients, it is establishing a locally incorporated bank, which will take two to three years to set up, after which its clients will be able to trade China-listed stocks, he said.

With assets under management of approximately $249 billion at the end of September, Asia Pacific is Credit Suisse’s third largest market after Switzerland and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

(Reporting by Selena Li; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Jane Merriman)

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