×

UPDATE 1-Activist Investor RBR Capital Advisors presses for Credit Suisse break-up

break-up@ (Writes through with confirmation)

ZURICH, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Activist investor RBR Capital Advisors has launched a campaign to break up Credit Suisse after building up a small stake in Switzerland's second biggest lender.

A spokesman for the Swiss hedge fund told Reuters on Tuesday it has been talking to the management of the bank which it wants to separate into three different parts.

RBR, which is led by Rudolf Bohli, wants to divide Credit Suisse into an investment bank, an asset management group and a wealth manager accommodating the Zurich-based bank's retail and business banking operations.

The strategy, which will be outlined at an investment conference later this week, could see the revival of the old First Boston brand, the name of the U.S. investment bank it took control of in 1988.

RBR has recruited Gael de Boissard, a former Credit Suisse investment bank co-head to support its campaign, which follows some investor frustration with the slow progress of Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam's turnaround plan.

Thiam, in the job since July 2015, has restructured the bank to focus on wealth management and less on investment banking, while the Swiss lender has been hit by billions in fines and write-downs.

Credit Suisse shares traded 1.6 percent higher in early business on Tuesday. Although the shares had gained 9.7 percent this year, the performance reflected only a partial rebound from a feeble 2016 where they fell nearly a third.

"We have been in contact with Credit Suisse's leadership and we will present our views to the public shortly," an RBR spokesman said.

RBR, which has previously launched campaigns against asset manager GAM and airline catering company Gategroup, has built a stake of around 100 million Swiss francs ($102 million) in Credit Suisse, equivalent to around 0.25 percent of the Swiss bank's shares.

Although the stake is relatively small, RBR said it has also signed non-disclosure agreements with around 100 other investors, including other shareholders in Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse on Tuesday said it remained focused on its strategy.

"While we welcome the views of all our shareholders, our focus is on the implementation of our strategy and of our 3 year plan, which is well on track and which we believe will unlock considerable value for our clients and shareholders," a Credit Suisse spokesman said.

RBR's plans are due to be unveiled at the JP Morgan Robin Hood Investor Conference due to take place in New York on Friday.

It is the second activist investor campaign involving a big Swiss bank in recent years after Knight Vinke pushed for UBS to make more drastic cuts to its investment bank.

The Monaco-based fund said it made a profit on its UBS investment but was ultimately unsuccessful in its campaign. ($1 = 0.9786 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Oliver Hirt and John Revill; Editing by Keith Weir)