Shares of Credit Suisse crashed more than 20% Wednesday to a new record low after its biggest backer appeared to rule out providing any more funding for the embattled Swiss lender.
In an interview with Bloomberg, the chairman of the Saudi National Bank said it would not increase its stake in Credit Suisse.
“The answer is absolutely not, for many reasons. I’ll cite the simplest reason, which is regulatory and statutory. We now own 9.8% of the bank — if we go above 10% all kinds of new rules kick in, whether be it by our regulator or the European regulator or the Swiss regulator,” Ammar Al Khudairy told Bloomberg. “We’re not inclined to get into a new regulatory regime.”
He made similar comments to Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Saudi Arabia.
[Credit Suisse has a major presence in Research Triangle Park, N.C.]
Once a big player on Wall Street, Credit Suisse has been hit by a series of missteps and compliance failures over the past few years that have damaged its reputation with clients and investors, and cost several top executives their jobs.
Customers withdrew 123 billion Swiss francs ($133 billion) from Credit Suisse last year — mostly in the fourth quarter — and the bank reported an annual net loss of nearly 7.3 billion Swiss francs ($7.9 billion), its biggest since the global financial crisis in 2008.
In October, the lender embarked on a “radical” restructuring plan that entails cutting 9,000 full-time jobs, spinning off its investment bank and focusing on wealth management.
The Saudi National Bank — which describes itself as the kingdom’s biggest bank — committed $1.5 billion of the $4 billion in new capital Credit Suisse raised to fund its overhaul.
Al Khudairy said that he was pleased with the restructuring, adding that he didn’t think the Swiss lender would need extra money.
“We are happy with the plan, the transformation plan that they have put forward. It is a very strong bank,” Al Khudairy said in the interview with Reuters.
“I don’t think they will need extra money; if you look at their ratios, they’re fine. And they operate under a strong regulatory regime in Switzerland and in other countries,” Al Khudairy said.
Markets flash warning signs
But the bank’s shares were trading down nearly 22% in Zurich on Wednesday, and the cost of buying insurance against the risk of a Credit Suisse default hit a new record high, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Credit Suisse declined to comment. The Swiss National Bank also declined to comment and the European Central Bank said it “cannot comment on individual banks.” The ECB has an indirect role in regulating Credit Suisse because of its presence in eurozone countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain.
The crash spilled over into other European banking shares, with French and German banks such as BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank falling between 8% and 10%.
The blows keep coming for Switzerland’s second biggest bank. On Tuesday, it acknowledged “material weakness” in its financial reporting and scrapped bonuses for top executives.
Credit Suisse said in its annual report that it had found “the group’s internal control over financial reporting was not effective” because it failed to adequately identify potential risks to financial statements.
The bank is urgently developing a “remediation plan” to strengthen its controls.
Speaking to Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, Credit Suisse CEO Ulrich Körner said the bank saw “material good inflows” of money on Monday, even as markets were spooked by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the United States.
Overall, outflows from the bank had “significantly moderated” after customers withdrew 111 billion francs ($122 billion) in the three months to December, Körner added. In its annual report, the bank said outflows had not yet reversed by the end of last year.
Körner said the collapse of SVB was “somewhat of an isolated problem.” Credit Suisse follows “materially different and higher standards when it comes to capital funding, liquidity and so on,” he added.
— Olesya Dmitracova and Livvy Doherty contributed to this article.
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