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Banking

Credit Suisse Brazil: Following through the upswing

The outlook for both Credit Suisse and Brazil is better than it has been in years, and CEO José Olympio Pereira has his eyes firmly focused on the opportunities coming his way.

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The last few years cannot have been easy for Credit Suisse Brazil, buffeted by internal dramas as it twice needed to seek capital through rights issues and by the external challenge of Brazil’s deepest ever recession. But the stresses haven’t visibly marked chief executive José Olympio Pereira.

One of this correspondent’s first interviews on arriving in São Paulo more than seven years ago was with Olympio, just after he was promoted to CEO of the Swiss bank’s Brazilian operations, and he looks now exactly the same as he did at that first meeting. Only the offices have changed. Credit Suisse now shares the same plush new building that Facebook occupies. 

The bank appears to have weathered those storms; today it faces calmer waters. One benefit of presiding over the Brazilian operations of Credit Suisse is that it must have already been exceeding today’s targets for return on equity. 

The bank’s chief executive, Tidjane Thiam, recently committed to 10% to 11% ROE in 2019 and 11% to 12% the year after. In Brazil, private banks often hit double those rates – it must be nice to be an operation that boosts the bank’s global average in this key metric?

Olympio isn’t biting – the bank does not break out individual markets’ ROE and he is not going to be diverted from that policy by such an obvious attempt to elicit some detail about the Brazil office’s profitability.


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