Booming Credit Suisse picks its first American chief executive

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The Independent Online

Credit Suisse, the venerable Swiss banking giant, is to be run by an American for the first time, having appointed the head of its investment bank, Brady Dougan, to the post of chief executive.

The former derivatives trader will take over the top role in May from Oswald Gruebel, who bowed out on a high yesterday with the bank's best ever set of annual results.

The elevation of Mr Dougan continues a trend sweeping the global financial services sector, with US executives rising to the tops of their organisations thanks to the growing power of Wall Street and the increasing importance of investment banking - and, in particular, trading revenues - within larger financial groups.

Mr Dougan became the head of what was then called CSFB - it has since dropped the First Boston name - in 2004, after a short and tumultuous period when John Mack had been co-chief executive, with responsibility for the investment bank. Under Mr Dougan, morale has improved along with income from the boom in merger and acquisition activity. The investment bank has taken over from private banking as the main driver of Credit Suisse's earnings. Analysts yesterday cheered a cost-cutting drive across the bank last year when Mr Dougan had forced bankers to rethink expenditure on car services, staff parties and colour photocopying.

Americans are increasingly taking top positions at banks outside the US. Bob Diamond runs Barclays Capital, the most profitable part of the UK-based Barclays. Anshu Jain, a native of India who earned a Masters degree at the University of Massachusetts, co-leads the investment banking unit of Deutsche Bank with Michael Cohrs, a 50-year-old American.

Mr Gruebel's retirement - his second - took Wall Street by surprise as he had previously said he had no plans to quit. He said yesterday: "I came back in 2002 when we had a job to return the company to profitability. I'm retiring because my work here is done."

Fourth-quarter net group profit was 4.67bn Swiss francs (£1.94bn) as trading revenues jumped 130 per cent.