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Credit Suisse sticks with 2019 dividend; CEO warns of bonus changes due to virus

Credit Suisse Group AG is pressing ahead with paying out dividends in respect of its 2019 earnings but newly appointed CEO Thomas Gottstein warned that changes to the bank's bonus policy for 2020 could be on the horizon amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Zurich-based lender will propose during its April 30 annual general meeting a cash dividend of 27.76 centimes per share despite some of its European peers opting to suspend distributions in line with recommendations by the ECB. Credit Suisse's local competitor, UBS Group AG, will also proceed with distributing dividends.

Credit Suisse said March 25 that shareholders will not be allowed to be physically present during the AGM and should instead vote through powers of attorney or independent proxies.

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Meanwhile, Gottstein told broadcaster SRF that the bank could suspend bonuses in 2020 to show solidarity with victims of the COVID-19 disease in Switzerland, Reuters reported March 31. Speaking to SRF program "Eco," Gottstein said the board will decide in the autumn on its 2020 dividend.

Like the ECB, Swiss financial watchdog FINMA has also asked banks to suspend dividends to conserve capital that can be used to support the economy as it reels from the effects of the virus, Reuters noted.

In its annual report for 2019, Credit Suisse disclosed that it has shelved its share buyback program for 2020.