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Credit-Suisse---ZURICH: Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said on Thursday its net profit fell 24 percent last year to 1.4 billion Swiss francs (1.2 billion euros, $1.5 billion) despite a rebound to profit by the investment banking unit.


The result was below the 1.7 billion francs pencilled in by analysts surveyed by the Swiss financial news agency AWP.


In the final quarter of 2012, however, the bank posted a net profit of 397 million francs, compared to a loss of 637 million francs in the same period the previous year.


Following the news, shares in the bank fell but then bounced to show a gain of 2.07 percent to 27.56 francs in late morning trading on a slightly lower Swiss stock exchange.


The bank, Switzerland's second-biggest, which is in the middle of a massive restructuring, also raised the amount it aims to save by the end of 2015 to 4.4 billion francs from its previous target of 4.0 billion.


In 2012, Credit Suisse lowered its costs by 2.0 billion francs, the bank said in a statement, adding that at the end of the year it had about 47,400 employees, a reduction of around 1,000 jobs from the third quarter.


The private banking and wealth management division posted an operating profit of 3.7 billion francs for 2012, up from 2.9 billion the previous year.

The bank also slashed total pay expenses by 5.0 percent compared to 2011, but provided no details Thursday on where the specific cuts had been made.


The investment bank unit, which posted a loss of 593 billion francs in 2011, rebounded in 2012 with an operating profit of 2.0 billion francs.


In the last quarter of the year, this division meanwhile saw its net revenues slide 16 percent compared to the previous three-month period as its fixed-income sales and trading activities dwindled.


In the fourth quarter, Credit Suisse also said it had strengthened its capital position, reaching its targeted ratio of 9.4 percent, and said it was on track to pass the 10-percent mark this year -- five years ahead of schedule.


"2012 was a year of transition," said chief executive Brady Dougan in a statement.


"We took significant steps to adapt our businesses and our organisation to new regulatory requirements, changing client demands and the current market environment," he added.


These measures should lead to an improvement this year, he said.


"Going into 2013, revenues have so far been consistent with the good starts we have seen to prior years, with profitability further benefitting from the strategic measures we took in 2012, including our strengthened capital position and our significantly reduced risks and cost base," said Dougan.


The bank's board recommended keeping the annual dividend unchanged at 0.75 francs per share.


Credit Suisse's results received mixed reviews from analysts.


"Results were in line with expectations," said Theresa Nielsen of Vontobel, highlighting the bank's improved margins in its asset and wealth management units, but pointing out that it "still needs to work on its capitalisation, and we expect asset sales and derisking to continue."


Rainer Skierka of Bank Sarasin meanwhile noted the progress the bank had made in its restructuring efforts, but stressed that, due to its continued commitment to its investment bank, its revenues remained more volatile than those of its main competitor UBS.


The analyst also stressed that Credit Suisse's fixed-income revenues were lagging about 15 percent below those of its US competitors.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013






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