Credit Suisse CEO Thiam hauls in 12.7 million Sfr 2018 pay package

CEO Thiam of Swiss bank Credit Suisse awaits the company's annual news conference in Zurich
CEO Tidjane Thiam of Swiss bank Credit Suisse awaits the company’s annual news conference in Zurich, Switzerland February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

March 22, 2019

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) – Credit Suisse Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam was awarded 12.65 million Swiss francs ($12.74 million) in total compensation in 2018, the group’s annual report showed on Friday.

The 30 percent boost over last year’s award placed him amongst the top earners in the European banking sector.

Switzerland’s second-biggest bank last year revised its executive pay to focus more on profitability and shareholder returns, as it completed an overhaul which initially racked up billions in losses.

Now out of its restructuring phase, Credit Suisse said the pay rise reflected a job well done, with the bank having turned its first annual profit since 2014, slashed costs and shifted towards more stable wealth management and away from riskier investment banking activities.

The 12 members of the executive board together were awarded 93.5 million francs between fixed pay and short- and long-term incentives, which vest over the course of several years and are contingent upon hitting a number of targets.

Thiam’s pay counts amongst the highest reported for a bank chief so far this year, although it was topped by cross-town rival UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti’s 14.1 million franc award.

The issue of management pay has once again risen to the fore in Switzerland, where a ‘Fat Cat’ referendum allowing shareholders to vote on board- and executive-level compensation have done little to slow its overall growth.

In 2016, executives at Credit Suisse agreed to cut their bonuses by 40 percent, after the bank’s proposals for stepped up payouts came under fire.

The cuts, which affected 2016 cash bonuses and 2017 share incentives, had brought down Thiam’s pay to 9.7 million francs last year. Without the previous pay cut, Thiam’s compensation boost would have been 13 percent this year.

Despite wrapping up its overhaul, the bank’s share price remains under pressure, which it said meant executives would only get a fraction of the share packages they were awarded in 2016.

Amongst the major British banks, top CEO pay went to Lloyds boss Antonio Horto-Osorio, who received 6.3 million pounds ($8.28 million). Santander’s British boss received 6.4 million pounds.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, editing by John Revill)

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