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Credit Suisse’s Calello keeps hitting the target

On the table in his office on New York’s Park Lane Paul Calello, chairman of Credit Suisse’s investment bank, has a child’s toy.

Paul Calello, chairman of Credit Suisse’s investment bank

Paul Calello, chairman of Credit Suisse’s investment bank

Whac-a-mole – a game you may have played in a fairground at some point, which involves hitting down on moles as they emerge above the surface – is not a low-cost stress-relief tool. It is rather a reminder of more difficult times for Credit Suisse and the industry as a whole.

In September 2008, Calello had a fraught conversation with then Lehman Brothers chief executive Dick Fuld. Exasperated by what was happening in the markets, and assailed from all sides, Fuld said he felt like he was the target in a real-life game of Whac-a-mole. Calello had never heard of it. Within 24 hours an enterprising colleague had presented him with the game as a gift by way of explanation.

Those days were far from easy for Calello either. Credit Suisse was looking to exit positions in assets whose value was plummeting fast, if they had a value at all. Calello was in charge of the process.

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