Credit Suisse CEO to decide on capital raising 'as soon as possible'

Sumeet Chatterjee

* Does not give specific details on timing or fund-raising

type

* Says bullish on China business prospects in medium to long

term

* Says Asia equities business restructuring to continue in

Q2

(Adds comments on Asia business, CEO quotes on capital raising)

HONG KONG, March 28 (Reuters) - Credit Suisse Group AG

will make a decision on its capital raising plans "as

soon as possible," its chief executive said on Tuesday, without

giving specific details on the timing or the type of

fund-raising.

The bank upped its net loss for last year to 2.71 billion

Swiss francs ($2.75 billion) from 2.44 billion. This cut its

common equity tier 1 ratio, a measure of balance-sheet strength,

heightening its need to raise capital

Switzerland's second-biggest bank has said previously that

its current plan is to raise up to 4 billion francs via an

initial public offering (IPO) of a minority stake in its Swiss

banking division.

However, the bank is also considering a quick-fire share

sale at group level and its board of directors is set to decide

in April how to proceed, Reuters has reported, citing sources.

"The answer is as soon as possible," said Tidjane Thiam at

the bank's annual investment conference in Hong Kong, in

response to a question on when the bank would take a decision on

capital raising and what options were under consideration.

"We understand that the market needs clarity on that and we

are very keen to give it," he said. "We are working diligently

but as you can imagine it's a complex decision, we also wanted

to take our time to make sure that we give a considered answer."

Since taking over at Credit Suisse from British insurer

Prudential in mid-2015, Thiam has been on a cost-cutting drive

while shifting the bank's business towards wealth management and

putting less emphasis on investment banking.

Asia has become the centre-piece of Thiam's strategy to turn

the bank around. It has been one of the most aggressive foreign

banks to expand its footprint in China, the world's

second-largest economy.

"We are bullish on China, always have been, always will be,

medium to long term. That doesn't mean that China is immune to

cycles to the world economy or commodity cycles, but we think

the fundamentals are extremely positive," he said on Tuesday.

But in the near-term, Credit Suisse would continue with its

restructuring in the Asian equities business, which has weighed

on the earnings of foreign banks due to tough market conditions,

which will result in some reduction in headcount.

"The (equities) platform has to be of the size that's

commensurate with the demand today not with the demand in five

years or 10 years," Thiam said. "We have done some restructuring

in Q1 more in Q2. Hopefully after that most of it will be done."

($1 = 0.9855 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Writing by Anshuman Daga;

Editing by Stephen Coates)