Credit Suisse Boosts Thiam's Pay 30% After Flip to Profit
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Credit Suisse Group AG boosted Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam’s compensation by about 30 percent even as the stock slumped, a move that risks reigniting a debate over the size of executive payouts at the Swiss lender.
Thiam, who delivered the first annual profit in four years, saw his pay for 2018 rise to 12.7 million Swiss francs ($12.7 million), according to the bank’s compensation report. A large part of the increase was to compensate the CEO for reducing his long-term bonuses in response to shareholder objections.
Without last year’s pay cut, the increase for 2018 would have been 13 percent, Switzerland’s second-largest bank said. The overall bonus pool was unchanged from last year at 3.2 billion francs, though many top performers received bigger awards, the lender said.
“Differentiation has been made such that high-performing employees received year-on-year increases in variable incentive compensation,” said Kai Nargolwala, who heads the board compensation committee.
Credit Suisse posted three consecutive-annual losses before returning to profit last year following a sweeping restructuring program led by Thiam. The executive pivoted the bank to wealth management, cut costs and raised more than 10 billion Swiss francs in fresh equity to fund the restructuring.
The stock has declined more than 50 percent during Thiam’s tenure, a bigger drop than any other major European rival apart from Deutsche Bank AG. Though the shares have gained 7.6 percent this year, that still makes for a 12 month fall of 29 percent.
Still, the overhaul ended with a whimper as continued losses at the bank’s trading unit weighed on the company’s share price. Analysts continue to call on the former insurance executive to improve the unit’s performance.
The bump in pay risks reigniting a discussion over the size of executive payouts at the Swiss lender, which had subsided after the executive board took a voluntary pay cut last year in the face of shareholder criticism. Sergio Ermotti, who leads larger competitor at UBS Group AG, earned 14.1 million francs ($14 million) last year, down from 14.2 million francs in 2017.
The global-markets business posted a larger-than-expected loss of 193 million francs ($191 million) in the fourth quarter, offsetting wealth-management and investment-banking results that beat estimates. Thiam, a former insurance executive, is under pressure to boost performance of the unit that trades bonds, stocks and derivatives.
Credit Suisse last year introduced changes to its compensation policy after a shareholder backlash. The bank dropped capital metrics for its short-term awards, increased the importance of cost targets and introduced return on tangible equity as a measure for long-term incentives.
(Adds 2019 share performance in sixth paragraph.)
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