Horta-Osório regrets ‘difficulties’ following personal actions
Antonio Horta-Osorio, who is well-known in the UK following his time running Lloyds Banking Group, says:
“I have worked hard to return Credit Suisse to a successful course, and I am proud of what we have achieved together in my short time at the bank. Credit Suisse’s strategic realignment will provide for a clear focus on strengthening, simplifying and investing for growth. I am convinced that Credit Suisse is well positioned today and on the right track for the future.
I regret that a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally.
I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time. I wish my colleagues at Credit Suisse every success for the future.”
António Horta-Osório resigns as Credit Suisse chair over Covid breaches
Big news in the banking sector this morning: Credit Suisse chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio has quit following an internal probe into his personal conduct, following breaches of Covid-19 rules.
Credit Suisse announced that Horta-Osorio had resigned after a board investigation, after it emerged he had broken British quarantine rules to attend the Wimbledon tennis finals in London last July,
Horta-Osório had also admitted breaching Covid rules in Switzerland at the end of November, having flown out of the country within three days of arriving on 28 November, despite being required to quarantine for 10 days.
It’s an embarrassing blow to the embattled lender, which had appointed Horta-Osório less than a year ago.
Credit Suisse incurred heavy losses from the implosion of the Archegos investment fund last year, and also provided funding to the now-collapsed supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital.
Credit Suisse has now appointed board member Axel Lehmann chair, as it tries to recover from this string of scandals.
Severin Schwan, Vice-Chairman and Lead Independent Director of the Board of Credit Suisse, said:
“We respect António’s decision and owe him considerable thanks for his leadership in defining the new strategy, which we will continue to implement over the coming months and years.
Axel Lehmann as the new Chairman, with his extensive international and Swiss industry experience, is ideally suited to drive forward the strategic and cultural transformation of the bank. We wish Axel every success in his new role and António all the best for the future.”
Introduction: China’s growth slows as Covid restrictions and property woes hit demand
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
China’s economy slowed at the end of last year as the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis in its property sector hit growth– prompting Beijing to cut a key interest rate.
China’s GDP expanded by 4% year-on-year in October-December, data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows – which is the weakest expansion in 18 months.
For 2021 as a whole, China’s economy expanded by 8.1% – the fastest in a decade – as it recovered from the slump in activity at the start of 2020.
But there are clear signs of a slowdown at the end of the year, as China’s government introduced new restrictions to combat the latest wave of Covid-19.
Retail sales growth slowing sharply to just 1.7% year-on-year in December, down from 3.9%.
Spillovers from the crisis at indebted property developer Evergrande also weighed on China’s economy.
And in response, China’s central bank has cut its key interest rate for the first time in almost two years to help bolster the economy.
The People’s Bank of China has lowered the rate at which it provides one-year loans to banks by 10 basis points — the first reduction since April 2020.
Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, says:
“Consumption remains the weakest link in China’s growth story at the moment and that will by and large continue for much of this year,” said
“We think Beijing has a bottom line of around 5%. As is the case at the moment, if growth is weaker than that, they’d feel strongly motivated to pursue more policy easing.”
China’s president Xi Jinping will be speaking later today, as part of the Davos Agenda series organised by the World Economic Forum (as the usual Annual Meeting has been postponed again due to the pandemic).
We’ll also get the results of Scotland’s largest-ever auction of permits to construct offshore windfarms, which could raise up to £860m.
- 10am GMT: Scottish auction for offshore windfarm permits results
- 10am GMT: Special Address by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, at Davos Agenda
- 11am GMT: ILO publishes new analysis of labour market and social trends, and impact of Covid-19
- 3pm GMT: Special Address by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, at Davos Agenda
- 4.30pm GMT: Special Address by António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations, at Davos Agenda