Former top Credit Suisse shareholder sells full stake in bank – FT

(Reuters) – Harris Associates, one of Credit Suisse’s longest major shareholders, has sold its entire stake in the Swiss bank after losing patience with its strategy to stop persistent losses and a client exodus, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

Harris, which had remained loyal despite a string of scandals at the group, disclosed a stake of about 10% in the bank last August but reduced it to 5% in January.

Harris started to cut its exposure in October after Credit Suisse raised 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.27 billion) from investors, and when Saudi National Bank supplanted it as the top investor, David Herro, deputy chairman of Harris Associates, told the Financial Times.

“There is a question about the future of the franchise. There have been large outflows from wealth management,” the newspaper quoted Herro as saying. Credit Suisse reported a sharp acceleration in withdrawals in the fourth quarter, with outflows of more than 110 billion Swiss francs ($120 billion).

“We have lots of other options to invest,” he added. “Rising interest rates mean lots of European financials are headed in the other direction. Why go for something that is burning capital when the rest of the sector is now generating it?”

Harris Associates did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

In an emailed statement to Reuters on Sunday, Credit Suisse said, “we are ahead of our plan and have clear strategic objectives.”

“We are laser focused on successfully executing our plan and on progressing toward our targets to ensure new Credit Suisse delivers sustainable value for all our stakeholders,” the statement added.

Switzerland’s second-biggest bank has also begun a major overhaul of its business, cutting costs and jobs to revive its fortunes, including creating a separate business for its investment bank under the CS First Boston brand.

Credit Suisse last month reported its biggest annual loss since the 2008 global financial crisis after rattled clients pulled billions from the bank, and it warned of a further “substantial” loss this year.

($1 = 0.9357 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Gokul Pisharody in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Akriti Sharma; Editing by Richard Chang)