Credit Suisse Group AG is a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company. It is headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland. Credit Suisse has offices in fifty countries and on all continents except Antarctica. It is considered one of the global bulge bracket investment banks.
Credit Suisse was founded in 1856 by Alfred Escher to finance the expansion of the Swiss railroad network and other industrialization efforts. It continued to finance the development of the railroad network and the country's electrical grid, and to work toward converting the country to the system and away from coal throughout World War I. After World War II, the company began shifting to retail banking with savings accounts, credit cards, and consumer credit.
In 1978, Credit Suisse partnered with US investment bank First Boston, becoming Crédit Suisse-First Boston (CSFB). In 1980, the company purchased a $150 million issue of stocks that eventually ended up costing the company between $20 million and $40 million. The company rebranded as CS First Boston, Inc. in 1988, and Credit Suisse bailed out the financially troubled First Boston with $300 million in equity, subsequently making them a majority shareholder in the company. Credit Suisse started its first insurance firm in October 1990, CS Life.
In December 1997, Credit Suisse acquired Winterthur Insurance for close to $9.51 billion, which raised the value of its total assets to CHF 700 billion, or USD $466 billion, which brought it close to the valuation of Europe's largest bank at the time, Deutsche Bank. In 1998, the company acquired a leading Brazilian investment bank, Banco de Investimentos Garantia S.A. In 1999, Credit Suisse acquired Warburg Pincus Asset Management, a division of Warburg Pincus, for $650 million.
Credit Suisse was one of the only banks unaffected by the 2007-2008 world economic crisis, and even reported record earnings in the final quarter of 2007. However, it did begin to lower expenses by outshoring and outsourcing work, with a goal of reducing its cost-income ratio from 69% to 65% by 2010.
Credit Suisse has been subject to many controversies and investigations. On May 19, 2014, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to aid and assist US taxpayers in filing false income tax returns and other documents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This resulted in the forfeiture of $2.6 billion in fines.