ZURICH Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) is to merge its retail and private banking arms in Switzerland from January, cutting 300 jobs at the Swiss bank to save 50 million Swiss francs ($53 million).
The restructuring is part of an extra 1 billion-franc cost-cutting campaign announced by Credit Suisse two weeks ago as it seeks to boost profits and strengthen its balance sheet.
The current head of Swiss retail operations, Christoph Brunner, will lead the streamlined unit, the bank said.
"I am convinced that we can fulfill our performance promise even more effectively with this move, ensure we are close to our clients, and ultimately secure and expand our market position," global private banking head Hans-Ulrich Meister said in a memo to staff seen by Reuters.
Meister's move will feed fears of a widening cull of Swiss bankers after domestic rival UBS UBSN.VX said last week that 2,500 of an overall 10,000 job cuts will be made in Switzerland.
UBS is winding down its fixed income business and returning to its private banking roots.
Julius Baer (BAER.VX) is also expected to cut some jobs in Switzerland as part of an overall reduction of 1,000 jobs, as it seeks to rein in costs following its purchase of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's (BAC.N) international wealth management business.
At Credit Suisse, Rolf Boegli, who is currently operating chief at the private bank, will lead a separate unit serving ultra-wealthy clients in Switzerland - typically those with more than $50 million in bankable assets - as well as asset managers.
The current head of private banking in Switzerland, Arthur Vayloyan, will leave Credit Suisse, the bank said. Vayloyan wasn't immediately available for comment.
Credit Suisse is targeting 4 billion francs in cost savings by 2015, up from a goal of 3 billion francs it set in July and an earlier figure of 2 billion.
The bank, which is already cutting 3,500 staff or 7 percent of its workforce, said job losses would be inevitable to achieve the extra savings, but until now have not detailed how many more staff would go.
"The lack of far-sightedness surprises us, given banks tend to be very resourceful when it comes to maximizing their profits," workers' lobby group Employees Switzerland said in reaction. ($1=0.9477 Swiss francs) (Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Greg Mahlich)