Credit Suisse posts record loss


Posted at Feb 11 2009 03:43 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2009 12:16 AM

ZURICH - Credit Suisse posted a worse-than-expected fourth quarter net loss of 6.0 billion Swiss francs ($5.2 billion), bringing it to its biggest annual loss ever, due to a poor trading performance and restructuring charges.

But the Swiss bank said it had a made a "strong start" to 2009 and was profitable across all divisions in the year to date.

Switzerland's second-largest bank said on Wednesday that its net loss for the full year was 8.2 billion francs.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the bank to turn in a 4 billion franc net loss for the quarter and 6.3 billion for 2008. Swiss newspapers had said the annual loss could be as high as 8 billion francs.

"While our full-year results are clearly disappointing, we entered 2009 with a very strong capital position, a robust business model, a clear strategy and well-positioned businesses," Chief Executive Brady Dougan said in a statement.

"We have positioned our businesses to be less susceptible to negative market trends if they persist in the coming months and to prosper when markets recover."

Credit Suisse's results come a day after Swiss competitor UBS announced a full-year net loss of nearly 20 billion francs, the biggest in Swiss corporate history.

Credit Suisse said on December 4 it would slash 5,300 jobs as it had made a net loss of about 3 billion francs in October and November. It said on Wednesday it had achieved about 50 percent of its targeted job cuts to bring headcount down to 47,800 by year end.

It reiterated a target of paring its investment bank to 17,500 staff by the end of 2009 from 19,700 at the end of 2008.

Credit Suisse said it had made combined writedowns of 3.2 billion francs on risky assets. It also said it had suffered a trading loss of 6.7 billion francs in the fourth quarter.

Slides for a presentation from Credit Suisse showed the bank had trimmed some of its most troublesome assets.

It said had cut to 8.8 billion Swiss francs its exposure to commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS). Its exposure to leveraged finance, another problematic asset class, had dropped to 0.9 billion francs.

The total for risky assets in investment banking was down to 11.6 billion francs from 27 billion francs at the end of September and 99 billion francs at the start of the credit crisis at end-September 2007.