Credit Suisse said it will shore up its finances and borrow up to 51 billion euros from the Swiss central bank after its shares fell, dragging down other major European lenders in the wake of bank failures in the United States.
“This additional liquidity would support Credit Suisse’s core businesses and clients as Credit Suisse takes the necessary steps to create a simpler and more focused bank built around client needs,” the bank said.
Credit Suisse shares lost more than a quarter of their value on Wednesday after fresh concerns emerged about the health of financial institutions following the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the US.
The share price hit a record low after the bank’s largest shareholder, Saudi National Bank, told news outlets it would not put more money into the Swiss lender, which was hit by problems long before the collapse of the US banks.
The Saudi bank is trying to avoid rules kicking in with a stake above 10%, having invested about 1.5 billion Swiss francs to acquire a holding just below that threshold.
The concerns prompted an automatic halt in trading in Credit Suisse shares on the Swiss market and sent shares of other European banks falling, some by double digits.
On Wednesday at a financial conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Credit Suisse Chairman Axel Lehmann defended the bank, saying: “We have already taken the medicine” to reduce risks.
Asked if he would rule out government support in the future, he said: “It’s not a topic. … We’re regulated. We have strong capital relations, a very strong balance sheet. We’re all hands on deck, so it’s not a topic at all. “
Switzerland’s central bank announced late Wednesday that it was prepared to act, saying it would support Credit Suisse if needed. In a statement from the bank, it was not clear whether the support would come in the form of cash or loans or other assistance. Regulators said they believed the bank had enough cash to meet its obligations.
A day earlier, Credit Suisse reported that managers had identified “material weaknesses” in the bank’s internal controls over financial reporting late last year. It raised new doubts about the bank’s ability to weather the storm.
Credit Suisse shares fell about 30%, to about 1.6 Swiss francs (1.6 euros), before reversing to a 24% loss at 1.70 francs (1.72 euros) at the close on SIX- the stock exchange. At its lowest, the price fell by more than 85% from February 2021.
Following the joint announcement by the Swiss central bank and the Swiss financial market regulator, stocks also gained some ground on Wall Street.
The stock has suffered a long, sustained decline: in 2007, the bank’s shares traded for more than 80 francs (€81.72) each.
Concerned about the possibility of more hidden problems in the banking system, investors were quick to sell bank stocks.
France’s Societe Generale SA fell 12% at one point. France’s BNP Paribas fell more than 10%. Germany’s Deutsche Bank fell 8% and Britain’s Barclays Bank fell almost 8%. Trading in the two French banks was suspended for a short time.
STOXX Bank’s index of 21 leading European lenders fell 8.4% after relatively calm markets on Tuesday.
US stocks were mixed on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq composite 0.1% higher while the S&P 500 fell 0.7%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.9% lower after posting bigger losses early in the session.
Japanese banks resumed their downward trend, with Resona Holdings, the country’s No. 5 bank, falling 5% while other major banks fell more than 3%.
The turbulence came the day before a meeting with the European Central Bank. President Christine Lagarde said last week, before the US failures, that the bank was “very likely” to raise interest rates by half a percentage point to fight inflation. Markets were watching closely to see if the bank pulls through despite the recent turmoil.
Credit Suisse is “a much bigger concern for the global economy” than the mid-sized US banks that collapsed, said Andrew Kenningham, Europe head of Capital Economics.
It has several subsidiaries outside Switzerland and handles trading with hedge funds.
“Credit Suisse is not just a Swiss problem but a global problem,” he said.