Enterprise Risk Management at Credit Suisse

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Case Details:

Case Code : ERMT-024
Case Length : 27 Pages
Period : 2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Credit Suisse
Industry : Banking
Countries : Switzerland

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Credit Suisse, based in Zurich, was the second largest bank in Switzerland after UBS. The Group offered banking and insurance services to individuals and corporates.

Credit Suisse Financial Services provided private clients and small and medium sized companies with private banking and financial advisory services, banking products and pension and insurance solutions from Winterthur.

Credit Suisse first Boston, the investment bank served corporate, individual and government clients. Credit Suisse employed about 78,000 staff worldwide.

Unlike many other European banks, Credit Suisse had attempted to remain independent and grow organically. Under Chairman and CEO Lukas Mühlemann, the company expanded CSFB when it bought US investment firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, now CSFB (USA), in 2000.

When shareholders became concerned about Credit Suisse's profitability due to such an ambitious growth strategy, Mühlemann had to quit. His CEO duties were split between John Mack and Oswald Grübel. Walter Kielholz, CEO of Swiss Re took over, as chairman.

Background Note

In 1856, shortly after the creation of the Swiss federation, Alfred Escher opened Credit Suisse (CS) in Zurich. Primarily a venture capital firm, CS helped fund Swiss railroads and other industries. It later opened offices in Italy and helped establish the Swiss Bank Corporation.

CS shifted its focus to commercial banking in 1867. By 1871, it was Switzerland's largest bank, buoyed by the nation's swift industrialization. Overseas activity grew in the 1920s.

Trade declined in WWII, but neutrality left Switzerland's institutions intact and made it a major banking center, partly due to CS' role as a conduit for the gold plundered by the Nazis. Foreign exchange and gold trading became important activities for CS after WWII. Mortgage and consumer credit acquisitions fueled domestic growth in the 1970s.

In 1978, the bank took a stake in US investment bank First Boston and, with it, formed London-based Credit Suisse-First Boston (CSFB). CS created a 44%-owned holding company Credit Suisse First Boston to own First Boston, CSFB, and Tokyo-based CS First Boston Pacific.

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