Credit Suisse board has major investors’ backing – chairman

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FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen in Zurich

ZURICH – Credit Suisse’s roughly 10 key investors back the bank’s board and its strategy, Chairman Axel Lehmann told Swiss newspaper NZZ.

While unhappy over the bank’s dwindling share price and money lost on their investments, big shareholders “support the Board of Directors and its strategy,” Lehmann said in an interview published just after its annual general meeting.

During the AGM, shareholders rejected by a wide margin the board’s proposal to discharge management from liabilities for the 2020 financial year, as investor ire over a slew of costly missteps grows.

Shareholders now expected “implementation, implementation, implementation” and an end to negative surprises, Lehmann said.

“If we manage that, the share price will automatically improve,” he said.

Lehmann also expressed support for Chief Executive Thomas Gottstein, after noting during the shareholder meeting that a raft of management changes — which meant 11 out of 13 executives were now or soon would be new appointments — underscored the bank’s “deep and profound changes”.

“With so many new appointments, you also need someone at the top who knows what makes the entire organization tick and who the key customers are,” Lehmann told NZZ. “At the moment, we have a good mix of continuity and change.”

He said it was a competitive advantage for Switzerland to have two big banks and dismissed as “speculation” talk that Credit Suisse could be broken up.

(Reporting by Michael Shields and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)