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Credit Suisse's cautious hope after big annual loss; BANKING.

Credit Suisse yesterday reported its biggest ever annual loss after a poor fourth quarter hit by trading losses and restructuring charges.

But the Swiss bank expressed cautious optimism for 2009 even as it cut some financial targets.

It said it had a made a strong start to 2009 and that each division was showing a profit in the year to date, echoing relatively upbeat comments from rival UBS which on Tuesday reported the biggest annual net loss in Swiss corporate history.

"We are well positioned going into 2009," chief executive Brady Dougan said, but added: "This is not a light at the end of the tunnel message."

Switzerland's second-largest bank unveiled an annual net loss of 8.2 billion Swiss francs (pounds 4.8billion),worse than the average analyst forecast of 6.3 billion from a Reuters poll but in line with predictions from some Swiss newspapers and less than half the loss posted by UBS.

Credit Suisse racked up a fourth-quarter loss of six billion francs (pounds 3.5 billion),missing an average analyst forecast of four billion francs while further reducing its exposure to risky asset classes as it slashed its dividend and staff bonuses.

On average, bonuses were slashed by 60 per cent, with managing directors getting no unrestricted cash. The overall bonus payout for 2008 was two billion francs (pounds 1.2 billion), mostly for junior staff.

Mr Dougan said the bank now had a stronger capital base than most of its peers thanks to a Tier 1 ratio of 13.3 per cent and less than 12 billion francs of toxic assets on its books.

West LB analyst Georg Kanders said: "Results are negative and not much better than UBS in Q4. But there were lots of extraordinary items. Toxic assets are now less of an item. They have confirmed they have been significantly reduced.

"They have also had a positive start in January and just confirmed they have new inflows in the period."

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 12, 2009
Words:329
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