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Credit Suisse Says Fourth-Quarter Net Profit Triples, Names New CEO

Credit Suisse said Thursday that fourth-quarter net profit more than tripled, thanks in part to the sale of the insurer Winterthur Group, and names CEO.

Switzerland's second-largest bank said Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel, who turns 63 this year, will retire May 4 and will be succeeded by Brady Dougan.

Gruebel was the architect of Credit Suisse's "one-bank" strategy that encouraged the three main arms - private banking, investment banking and asset management - to work more closely together. Dougan became head of Credit Suisse's investment bank, formerly known as Credit Suisse First Boston, in 2004.

"Credit Suisse is in a better position than ever before, and there is no need for me to hang around," Gruebel told reporters. "My work here is done, and the best proof of that are the results."

Net profit for October through December of 2006 came to 4.67 billion Swiss francs ($3.75 billion; 2.87 billion euros), compared with 1.1 billion francs a year ago, the bank said in a statement. The capital gain from the Winterthur sale was 1.82 billion francs ($1.47 billion; 1.12 billion euros).

The bank said last month that it will spend the Winterthur proceeds on a three-year share buyback, dividend hike and investments.

Net revenue for the quarter rose 43% to 10.8 billion francs ($8.68 billion; 6.64 billion euros) from 7.57 billion francs a year earlier. Revenue from trading more than doubled, while fees and commissions rose 25% amid the buoyant markets that prevailed in the quarter. Wealthy clients tend to manage their portfolios more actively when capital markets are in good condition, which in turn feeds fees.

Healthier than Deutsche Bank

Analysts said Credit Suisse had a far healthier investment banking result than rivals Deutsche Bank AG of Germany and UBS AG of Switzerland.

Credit Suisse's net profit for investment banking in the quarter rose 63% to 6.09 billion francs ($4.91 billion; 3.75 billion euros).

"The investment bank used to be a real star, and it has really come back with fantastic numbers," said Peter Thorne, analyst with independent brokerage Helvea SA.

For the full year, net income nearly doubled to 11.38 billion francs ($9.15 billion; 6.99 billion euros) from 5.85 billion francs in 2005.

Credit Suisse shares rose 3.3% to 91.55 francs ($73.55; 56.22 euros) in Zurich trading.