Credit Suisse chief executive Thomas Gottstein has brushed aside a news story that the Swiss lender is a takeover target for US custody bank State Street.
Asked about a report on a Swiss blog that the US bank was preparing an offer, Gottstein replied: “We never comment on rumours. My father once gave me a piece of advice: for really stupid questions, you’d rather not comment at all. I will listen to my father’s advice in this instance.”
Gottstein was talking at the Goldman Sachs European Financials Conference in Rome on Thursday, the day after his bank issued its third profit warning of the year.
Shares in Credit Suisse fell 2 per cent on Thursday morning as investors responded with scepticism to the prospect of a deal with State Street.
A day earlier, Credit Suisse stock hit a 30-year low of SFr6.20 following the profit warning, but jolted up after the report of the takeover on Swiss blog Inside Paradeplatz, finishing the day up nearly 4 per cent.
Inside Paradeplatz cited a single source who said State Street was lining up a SFr9-per-share offer for Credit Suisse.
The US lender, which late last year agreed to buy Brown Brothers Harriman’s custody and asset servicing business for $3.5bn, declined to provide an outright denial to the story.
“We are not going to respond to an earlier news report,” it said. “As we’ve previously discussed, we are focused on our pending acquisition of Brown Brothers Harriman’s Investor Services business.”
Shares in State Street fell 5.5 per cent after the statement, with investors apparently concerned that it was less than an outright denial.
While analysts have said they see little benefit in State Street buying Credit Suisse, one area of potential they flag is a combination of both banks’ asset management divisions.
State Street Global Advisors specialises in index funds and exchange traded funds, while Credit Suisse Asset Management focuses on higher margin active products.
But asked about potential joint ventures involving CSAM during the Goldman Sachs event, Gottstein said there were no plans and that the asset management business was one of the bank’s four core divisions.
Gottstein was also asked about the bank’s prospects of emerging from three straight quarters of losses.
He said the bank was committed to hitting or potentially coming under its SFr17bn cost target for the year, with certain savings initiatives to be accelerated, though he added the bank would not make any concessions on risk and compliance.
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