Credit Suisse Group's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Credit Suisse Group's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Zurich — Credit Suisse returned to profit in 2018 for the first time since 2014, the Swiss banking giant said Thursday, crediting the recovery to the completion of a massive restructuring programme.

The bank, Switzerland's second-biggest after UBS, posted a net profit of Sf2.1bn  in 2018, after a loss of Sf983m the previous year, it said in a statement.

A vast overhaul of the Zurich-based lender was launched in late 2015 aiming to refocus the bank's activities on wealth management over merchant banking.

Initially welcomed by investors, the reorganisation was met with sharp criticism as the bank posted three years of heavy losses.

CEO Tidjane Thiam hailed the company's swing back to profit after the revamp wound down in 2018.

"Our restructuring, initiated in the fourth quarter of 2015, three years ago, was aimed at making the bank more resilient in challenging times," said the French-Ivorian businessman and former politician.

"We believe that the bank is now well positioned to withstand challenging market conditions."

Since the overhaul began in 2015, cumulative net cost savings beat expectations at Sf4.6bn.

While many top banks saw lower profit in the last  three months of 2018 due to market turmoil, Credit Suisse bucked the trend, achieving a net profit of Sf292m.

"We delivered a profit in one of our most challenging fourth quarters in years," said Thiam.