Senior Credit Suisse executive in talks over exit from bank

Eric Varvel, the Credit Suisse executive who was a proponent of the Greensill Capital-linked supply-chain finance funds that unravelled this year, is in discussions to leave the Swiss bank, according to people briefed on the matter.

Varvel, a veteran of the Zurich-based lender who has close ties to Credit Suisse’s Qatari clients and big shareholders, is chief executive of the Swiss bank’s US subsidiary and chair of its investment bank.

Part of the reason for his potential departure is a disagreement with António Horta-Osório, Credit Suisse’s new chair, over his style and strategy for the bank, one of the people said.

The Financial Times reported this year that Horta-Osório has taken on more executive duties at Credit Suisse in what insiders described as a power grab.

The lender also plans to announce a number of regional leadership roles internally on Friday, though this is not expected to include news of Varvel’s move, some of the people said.

The people requested anonymity as the discussions were private and cautioned that no final decision had yet been made by Varvel or the bank. Credit Suisse declined to comment. Varvel did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Varvel has maintained a strong presence within Credit Suisse over the past decade, partly attributable to his close relations with Qatari shareholders and clients, several of who were investors in the Greensill funds.

He played a pivotal role in bringing in Qatari investment during the global financial crisis, according to several sources, and has been chair of Credit Suisse’s Qatar business since 2009. Varvel was also based in Jakarta during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. 

Varvel previously led Credit Suisse’s $500bn asset management unit, through which the bank had multiple ties to Greensill. Credit Suisse offered exposure to Greensill’s loans that were marketed to the bank’s clients as safe investments.

Greensill filed for administration this year after its insurer refused to renew $4.6bn of insurance for its loans. Credit Suisse suspended $10bn of the funds linked to Greensill at the start of March.

Varvel was a proponent of the Greensill supply-chain funds that launched in 2017, a year after he was installed as head of Credit Suisse’s asset management business.

The funds were aimed at wealthy clients and promised “bond-like” levels of risk but with a juicier return than cash.

Just two weeks after Greensill collapsed in March, Varvel was removed as head of asset management in a leadership reshuffle, but he retained his other roles within the company.

A report Credit Suisse commissioned into its own failings over Greensill has been delayed and is unlikely to be finalised before the bank’s full-year results in February.

According to people familiar with the matter, one of the investigation’s main findings has been that Credit Suisse staff failed to pay enough attention to what the Greensill funds invested in and were too trusting of the supply-chain finance company.

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