Skip to main content

Credit Suisse chief executive Thomas Gottstein snubbed rumours about a potential takeover bid.AHMED YOSRI/Reuters

Credit Suisse chief executive Thomas Gottstein on Thursday called queries over a potential takeover offer from U.S. financial giant State Street “really stupid”, shutting down questions after a media report on the matter sent shares briefly higher the day before.

“We never comment on rumours. And my father once gave me advice: for really stupid questions, you better don’t comment at all,” Gottstein said, flagging a related question at the Goldman Sachs European Financials Conference.

“So I think I will listen to my father’s advice on this one.”

Shares in Credit Suisse spiked on Wednesday afternoon, with traders citing a report by Swiss financial news blog Inside Paradeplatz that U.S-based State Street was planning a takeover bid for the troubled lender, though many in the industry expressed doubts about the claim.

Switzerland’s second-largest lender has described 2022 as a “transition” year in which it is trying to turn the page on costly scandals that prompted a near-total reshuffle of top management and a restructuring seeking to curtail risk-taking, particularly in its investment bank.

Its shares have lost nearly half their value since two of the biggest shocks - the collapse of $10 billion in supply-chain finance funds linked to Greensill Capital and a more than $5 billion loss on the unwinding of trades by investment firm Archegos - hit the bank in March 2021.

Those blows prompted questions over whether the flagship Swiss lender could be challenged by investors demanding its break-up, or that its shrinking stock-market value made it a target for a foreign hostile takeover.

Reuters reported in April 2021 that State Street was among investors expressing interest in Credit Suisse’s asset management arm.

Gottstein said on Thursday no joint venture or strategic option was on the table for the business, adding asset management remained a key division for Credit Suisse.

The bank warned on Wednesday of a likely second-quarter loss and said it now aims to bring cost savings forward.

Gottstein said alongside accelerating cost initiatives, the bank would also slow down some of its investments.

“In some areas, we are waiting a little bit with some of the growth investments,” he said. “In China, we had a plan to ramp up relationship managers by about one-third in each year (from 2022-2024). That RM growth, we’re going to slow down a little bit.”

The bank, however, remained committed to its China plans, he said, disputing a report by Bloomberg earlier on Thursday.

“I want to be very clear: our overall China roll-out is fully on track. There was some news that we are delaying our licence application for the (licensed bank), which is not true. We are fully on track on that. We also want to get to 100% on our China securities joint venture,” he said.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.