ZURICH (Reuters) - Credit Suisse is merging its eastern European private banking business with western Europe as it seeks to return to growth after heavy outflows due to crackdowns on untaxed funds in hidden Swiss accounts.
Alois Baettig, a 40-year veteran of the Swiss bank who currently heads eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will leave Credit Suisse when it folds the regions into an overall EMEA unit from Oct. 1 - three years after splitting them off.
The news was disclosed in a memo seen by Reuters from Credit Suisse private bank co-head Hans Ulrich-Meister and EMEA Chief Executive Gael de Boissard.
Like many Swiss banks, Credit Suisse has suffered client withdrawals in Europe as governments crack down on untaxed funds held in offshore centres and customers dissolve accounts.
"Significant progress has been made in solving legacy cross-border tax matters with the aim to finalise by the end of 2015," Meister and de Boissard said.
The new combined unit, private banking EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), will be run by Romeo Lacher, who heads the western European business now.
In July, Credit Suisse said it had lost about 30 billion Swiss francs ($32.3 billion) in funds from wealthy clients over the past few years and expected another 15 billion francs to leave this year and next.
The bank said it would increasingly seek growth in Europe from ultra-high net worth people, generally thought of as individuals with more than 50 million francs to bank, following steps such as the sale of its private bank in Germany to Frankfurt-based Bethmann Bank as well as the planned disposal of a business aimed at affluent Italian clients.
Baettig will leave to pursue undisclosed personal interests outside Credit Suisse, according to a separate memo from Meister to staff.
"Under Alois' leadership, we have built and significantly strengthened our business in EEMEA, which is a highly competitive market," said Meister said.
Reporting by Katharina Bart; editing by David Clarke