Credit Suisse loses top dealmaker to Citigroup

Credit Suisse has lost one of its most senior remaining dealmakers to Citigroup, as the beleaguered Swiss lender prepares for a major restructuring of its investment bank after a series of scandals.

Jens Welter is quitting Credit Suisse less than nine months after being named co-head of global banking, ending a 27-year career with the Swiss bank where he became known as a top adviser to consumer companies such as Nestlé.

Welter will join Citi as its new co-head of European investment banking and also become chair of its consumer and retail advisory business, which works with the largest companies in those sectors globally. He will join Spanish banker Ignacio Gutiérrez-Orrantia in leading Citi’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“Jens is one of the best consumer bankers around. We have been talking for a long time,” said Manolo Falco, global co-head of investment banking at Citi. “We really wanted to fit this properly. We don’t usually do a move like this.”

Gutiérrez-Orrantia said: “Jens and I are fully aligned on the ambition and growth potential for the franchise and what it will take to succeed.”

Jens Welter
Jens Welter is quitting Credit Suisse less than nine months after being appointed co-head of global banking © Fred Marigaux

Falco said Citi was looking to capitalise on the downturn in the market to hire senior bankers in Europe. The US bank has recently hired veteran Deutsche Bank dealmaker Patrick Frowein and JPMorgan Chase banker Barry Weir to senior roles in its European advisory business.

Citi has also been adding senior dealmakers to its consumer and retail advisory business, including the addition of Goldman Sachs banker Chuck Adams last year.

In contrast, Credit Suisse has suffered a swath of senior departures from its investment bank over the past two years, as a series of scandals have hit the group’s share price and led senior staff to take offers from rivals. Welter will join Citi after three months’ gardening leave.

Credit Suisse investment bank co-head David Miller informed staff about Welter’s departure in an email seen by the Financial Times, which also revealed David Wah would become the sole global head of banking.

He added that Cathal Deasy and Giuseppe Monarchi were being appointed co-heads of investment banking and capital markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

New chief executive Ulrich Körner, who was installed by chair Axel Lehmann over the summer, is in the middle of planning a wholesale revamp of the 166-year-old lender, which will involve paring back the investment bank and cutting thousands of jobs.

The latest plans under consideration, which will be unveiled by the bank’s third-quarter results on October 27, include splitting the investment bank into three and resurrecting a “bad bank” holding pen for high-risk assets and businesses for sale, the Financial Times reported last week.

Credit Suisse board members have recently proposed offering senior managers equity in the investment bank as a means of retaining staff. The idea has been widely viewed as heralding a future spin-off of the bank’s advisory business, though people with knowledge of the matter said that was not an immediate priority.

Credit Suisse shares hit an all-time low on Tuesday below SFr4 after dropping 17 per cent in the past week following market fears the bank was preparing a capital raising. Shares are down more than 56 per cent this year.

Körner and Lehmann have sought to calm staff nerves following recent speculation about their plans for the business, sending a group-wide email last week.

“We want to establish a clear path for the bank that will strengthen our franchise for the long term. This process requires time and a significant effort from many parts of the organisation,” they wrote.