Credit Suisse ends tumultuous year with big loss as litigation costs bite

Credit Suisse ends tumultuous year with big loss as litigation costs bite

A sign above the entrance to the Credit Suisse Group AG headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.

Thi My Lien Nguyen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON — Credit Suisse on Thursday announced that it swung to a loss in 2021, after a tumultuous year led to a significant increase in litigation provisions.

The Swiss lender posted a full-year net loss of 1.57 billion Swiss francs ($1.7 billion), well below expectations of a 377.95 million Swiss franc loss, according to Refinitiv. The bank reported a fourth quarter net loss attributable to shareholders of 2.01 billion Swiss francs. Analysts had expected a profit of 25.73 million Swiss francs.

The bank said it took “major litigation provisions” of 1.1 billion Swiss francs in 2021.

Credit Suisse has been embroiled in a series of high-profile scandals in recent years, most recently when its chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio resigned last month after repeatedly violating Covid-19 quarantine rules.

Horta-Osorio had come in with the intention of cleaning up the bank’s corporate culture after its investment banking division suffered considerable hits in 2021 due to its involvement with collapsed investment firm Archegos Capital and insolvent supply chain finance company Greensill.

In the bank’s earnings report, CEO Thomas Gottstein acknowledged that 2021 was a “very challenging year” for Credit Suisse.

“Our reported financial results were negatively impacted by the Archegos matter, the impairment of goodwill relating to the Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) acquisition in 2000 and litigation provisions, as we look to proactively resolve legacy issues,” Gottstein said.

During the last three quarters of the year, Gottstein said the bank was run with a “constrained risk appetite across all divisions,” as it attempted to strengthen risk and controls processes and continued remediation effort, including returning cash to investors following the supply chain finance funds issue.

“Our clear focus remains on the disciplined execution of our new Group strategy as announced in November 2021: strengthening our core and simplifying our organization as we look to invest for growth in key strategic business areas,” Gottstein added.

Gottstein took the helm in early 2020 after former CEO Tidjane Thiam resigned following a bizarre and protracted spying scandal that rocked Switzerland’s second-largest bank to its foundations.

Other highlights from Thursday’s earnings:

  • CET 1 ratio, a measure of bank solvency, reached 14.4% from 12.9% a year ago.
  • Fourth-quarter net revenues stood at 4.58 billion Swiss francs, from 5.22 billion Swiss francs a year earlier.
  • Total operating expenses were 6.18 billion Swiss francs, versus 5.17 billion a year ago.

The bank’s shares are down more than 27% over the past 12 months.

— This is a breaking news story and will be updated shortly