Credit Suisse Stock Crashes to Record Low as Key Backer Says No More Money

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Credit Suisse’s shares fell to a new all-time low for the fifth consecutive day on Wednesday, following news that its largest investor, Saudi National Bank, will be unable to acquire more equity stake in the Swiss bank due to regulatory restrictions. The bank’s share price tanked by almost 30 percent in the morning, recovering to around 25 percent at the time of writing.

Trading was suspended multiple times on the Swiss exchange as the stock dropped below 2 Swiss francs and below $2 on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time in its listing on each exchange. Credit Suisse’s plummeting share price contributed to a broader rout among European lenders, with Société Générale, Banco de Sabadell, and Commerzbank among the hardest hit.

In an environment of dry liquidity, investors are shaken to hear that Saudi money may be cut off.

Last year, Saudi National Bank (SNB) took a 9.9 percent stake in Credit Suisse to support a strategic overhaul to improve investment banking performance and address risk factors. In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, the Middle Eastern bank revealed that it would like to increase its equity stake in Credit Suisse, but could not due to legal barriers.

“We cannot because we would go above 10 percent. It’s a regulatory issue,” SNB chairman Ammar Al Khudairy said. He added that SNB was satisfied with the Swiss bank’s prospects and its financial turnaround plan, despite recent scandals.

“We are happy with the plan, the transformation plan that they have put forward. It is a very strong bank,” he said. “I don’t think they will need extra money; if you look at their ratios, they’re fine.”

“They operate under a strong regulatory regime in Switzerland and in other countries.”

Credit Suisse CEO Ulrich Koerner has stated that the bank meets all regulatory requirements and its liquidity basis is “very, very strong,” he said in an interview with CAN on Wednesday.

Swiss National Bank
A man walks past the Swiss National Bank building in Zurich, on Oct. 31, 2013. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

Swiss Bailouts for Suisse?

Investors remain concerned about the impact of the bank’s recent disclosure that it identified “material weaknesses” in its financial reporting processes for 2021 and 2022.

According to some hedge fund managers, the troubles at Credit Suisse were a long time coming, and the SNB development did not come as a surprise.

“I think this a complete non-event,” Harris Kupperman, founder of Praetorian Capital Management, told The Epoch Times. “Everyone has been expecting this for a decade.”

The bank is reportedly seeking government assistance from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority and the Swiss National Bank (Switzerland’s central bank), according to the Financial Times. While such talks are unconfirmed, some believe this is the only viable option facing the Nordic country.

“It is looking inevitable that the Swiss National Bank will have to intervene and provide a lifeline,” Opimas analyst Octavio Marenzi told the Financial Times. “The [Swiss National Bank] and the Swiss government are fully aware that the failure of Credit Suisse or even any losses by deposit holders would destroy Switzerland’s reputation as a financial center.”

Earlier this week, U.S. regulators opted to bail out the failed Silicon Valley and Signatures banks. The move appears to have temporarily arrested a widespread panic, but Kupperman was unhappy with the decision, saying it rewards incompetence.

“People should live and die by their own bad decisions,” said Kupperman. “Bailouts help idiots fail forward.”

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