Tidjane Thiam Told to Soften His Tone

David Herro

David Herro, Harris Associates

Tidjane Thiam is the public face of Credit Suisse's current woes as the bank embarks on a painful restructuring. Now, the bank's second-largest shareholder is voicing subtle criticism of the CEO's treatment of staff.

Tidjane Thiam has proven a lightning rod for criticism of Credit Suisse's problems, including a stock that has lost half its value since he took over, which the CEO blames on hedge funds.

«Good Communication, Empathy»

The bank's largest shareholders and the board have until now backed him unequivocally. But Credit Suisse's second-largest shareholder, U.S.-based mutual fund Harris Associates, now says Thiam needs to soften his personal style if he wants to get his message across.

Harris, which owns a total of at least 8.5 percent of Credit Suisse when tallying together investment vehicles, has called upon Thiam to improve on how he is addressing employees at the bank. 

«If change is going to happen, it has to be done with good communication and empathy toward employees,» Harris international investment chief David Herro told the «New York Times».

Quell Employee Unrest

Herro's comments are a thinly-veiled reference to Thiam's lack of backing at Credit Suisse's investment bank, where bankers have staged anopen revolt. In Zurich, the CEO has also been accused by his bankers of surrounding himself with acolytes and spurning advice from bank veterans.

Herro says he backs Thiam's wider strategy, and doesn't currently expect the bank to require a capital increase. 

After raising 6 billion francs last year, Credit Suisse had maxed out its potential to tap shareholders for cash, Thiam said in March according to «Finanz und Wirtschaft». Nevertheless, he must raise Credit Suisse's capital ratio.

That means he needs the bank's lucrative units – including parts of its investment bank — to generate cash flow and profits. To do so, he desperately needs to quell employee unrest about his style and methods – and take Herro's advice.



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