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Last October, Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam called two of his bank’s businesses the “ugly ducklings that no one likes.” He’s just been reminded why.
The Zurich-based lender’s units that trade corporate bonds and securitized products contributed about $500 million in so- called mark-to-market losses in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the bank’s presentation to investors. That includes a $209 million loss on distressed debt and $107 million tied to leveraged-finance underwriting.
The losses, triggered by a slump in the value of inventory that Credit Suisse holds on its own balance sheet amid upheaval in global markets, show the risks that come with acting as a broker in high-yield assets. The markdowns contributed to the biggest fixed-income trading revenue decline among global investment banks and a quarterly loss for the bank that sped up Thiam’s plans to overhaul the lender and meet new, tougher capital rules.
“The price of oil went down, people panicked, prices started moving very fast,” Thiam told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s never pleasant to have losses but they are manageable,” he said, adding that the bank will probably book gains when market values rebound.
By Donal Griffin, Bloomberg