UK - The London-based asset management activities of Credit Suisse have been placed on ‘rating watch negative' by Fitch Ratings.
Fitch said the move, which excludes Credit Suisse's alternative asset management and real estate activities, followed “the recent departures of several experienced and well regarded investment staff in senior positions across different investment areas since last November”.
The specific departures cited as being cause for worry by the ratings agency include: the head of UK fixed income, the two joint heads of the multi-manager business, the European head of credit and other portfolio managers.
A statement released by Fitch said: “Although.. Credit Suisse's recent structural and strategy modifications could be expected to result in staffing changes … the extent of the more recent turnover in key personnel has caused the agency to adjust its expectations with respect to the depth and experience of staff dedicated to the company’s core investment processes.
“Asset gathering, which was fairly strong in the first three quarters of 2006 - reaping first rewards of Credit Suisse's more integrated platform - suffered a setback in the final three months, as CHF2.9bn outflows were reported.
“However, Fitch notes that these inflows were mainly concentrated in money market products and alternative investments while core fixed income and equity products have rather been neglected.”
A spokesman for Credit Suisse responded to Fitch’s action by saying: "It is important to note that we have not been downgraded, but have only been put on watch. It is also important to note that the watch status relates only to our UK and not our global business.
“We will be working with Fitch to continue to communicate our plans for our UK business and our long term strategy to serve our clients in this important market."
Fitch said the watch status would be resolved once the staffing situation at Credit Suisse had stabilised and/or the agency had a better idea of the firm’s plan for achieving stability.
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