Credit Suisse chair Axel Lehmann has apologised to investors at the bank's final annual general meeting and acknowledged the "bitterness, anger and shock" the past weeks have caused.

Lehmann explained he took on the role with "full knowledge of the size of the task", including the legacy issues of the bank, the time pressure to enact a successful turnaround and the wider geopolitical and macroeconomic environment.

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"We needed a comprehensive strategic and cultural transformation," he said. "The business model had to be fundamentally overhauled and changed.

"It was also clear that there were unhealthy developments, errant behaviours and wrong incentive systems. There were transactions that should not have been allowed to play out."

Faced with these "difficulties", Lehmann said he was convinced the turnaround was "achievable", however, in the end, "it was too late".

"The bitter reality is that there was not enough time for our strategy to bear fruit," he admitted.

Alongside "major outflows of client funds" and "one legacy issue after another", Lehmann cited the fears of contagion that spread following the collapse of SVB and other US banks, adding that "social media and digitalisation fanned the flames of this fear".

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As a result, there were "only two options: ‘deal' or ‘bankruptcy'".

"The merger had to go through," he said. "The terms had to be accepted.

"The only alternative would have been a restructuring under Swiss banking law. This would have led to the worst case scenario, namely a total loss for shareholders, unpredictable risks for clients, severe consequences for the economy and the global financial markets."

Lehmann added he was committed to working with UBS to ensure the "best possible solutions are found for employees" and would manage the process as quickly and transparently as possible.

Concluding, the chair thanked shareholders for their trust and support, employees for their "unwavering commitment to serving our clients" and UBS, which he said would tackle the integration with "great discipline, fairness and prudence, in a sustainable manner".