Across the industry, banks are holding the line on bonuses or pushing it back a few points. Credit Suisse is no different: Its bonus pool will be about 7% smaller for last year than it was for 2019, and why wouldn’t it be? After all, while the Suisse didn’t do as badly as expected, it also didn’t exactly break any records.

The Swiss bank reported a loss of 353 million Swiss francs Thursday, equivalent to $393 million, for the fourth quarter.

Of course, things might have been as bad as expected but for the performance of one part of the bank.

Its investment banking arm saw a more than five-fold jump in pretax profit to $318 million in the fourth quarter, with the biggest revenue contribution coming from helping companies raise stock and bond financing…. A highlight, Mr. Gottstein said, has been a bulging pipeline for special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, which raise cash on exchanges to buy companies and take them public. Credit Suisse was the top SPAC underwriter last year

That’s right, in spite of Credit Suisse’s best efforts to pummel all of the morale from its investment bankers, its open loathing for the unit and considered underinvestment in it, the perfectly-placed pariahs saved the bank from the worst side effects of a global pandemic. And Thomas Gottstein & co. are showing some uncharacteristic appreciation for it.

Credit Suisse Group AG’s investment bankers are set for higher bonuses, with those in other divisions likely to see flat or lower payments after the overall pool for discretionary pay was cut…. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein echoed comments of executives at rival lenders such as Deutsche Bank AG by signaling that Credit Suisse needed to pay for performance and that it would increase bonuses at the investment banking unit.

The internal security unit? Presumably not so much.

Credit Suisse Investment Bankers Set to Take Home Higher Bonuses [Bloomberg]
Credit Suisse Posts Loss Despite Boost From Investment Bank [WSJ]

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