Switzerland considering nationalizing floundering bank – Bloomberg
The Swiss authorities are considering a “full or partial nationalization” of ailing banking giant Credit Suisse Group should a complicated proposed takeover by rival UBS Group fail to win approval from both shareholders and regulators, inside sources told Bloomberg on Sunday.
Zurich is “considering either taking over the bank in full or holding a significant equity stake” if the UBS deal should fall through “because of the complexities in arranging the deal and the short time frame involved,” the sources explained, adding that regulators are eager to conclude the matter before Asian markets open to prevent further erosion of public faith in the banking system.
The UBS deal, in which the megabank would have picked up Credit Suisse for a bargain-basement $1 billion, leaves the Swiss government on the hook if the acquisition fails to quell the instability in the system. If the bank’s credit default spread increases by 100 or more points, UBS can simply walk away from the deal, leaving Zurich and the regulators holding the bag. Nationalizing Credit Suisse would seemingly jump right to that eventuality.
The authorities have already reportedly agreed to a rewrite of Swiss banking laws to allow the companies to bypass the required shareholder vote and fast-track the merger.
Credit Suisse reportedly considers the valuation much too low, and the deal is also unpopular with the bank’s shareholders, as it would have paid them just CHF0.25 in UBS stock per share while their holdings were still worth CHF1.86 at the close of markets on Friday. The merger would cut thousands of jobs from the failing bank, particularly in its investment banking division.
UBS also wants protection from any pending legal cases or regulatory probes into its erstwhile rival that could result in fines or losses, though a source involved with the deal told the Financial Times it is unlikely to receive such immunity.
Credit Suisse has been hemorrhaging deposits for weeks amid a series of scandals and regulatory issues. As several US banking failures triggered massive systemic bank runs last week, outflows reached CHF10 billion per day and company shares lost a quarter of their value, necessitating a $54 billion loan from the Swiss National Bank. Regulators are concerned that this alone is not enough to shore up confidence in the financial system.