Credit Suisse Executives will hold meetings over the weekend to chart a path forward for the troubled Swiss bank, people familiar with the matter said, after an emergency lifeline offered only temporary relief and its shares took another beating on Friday.
The 167-year-old Swiss bank is the biggest name caught up in market jitters unleashed by the collapse of US lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the past week, forcing it to tap into $54 billion in central bank funding.
In the latest sign of its growing problems, at least four major banks including Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank have placed restrictions on their deals involving the Swiss lender or its securities, according to five sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Credit Suisse declined to comment on the banks’ actions.
Chief Financial Officer Dixit Joshi’s team will now assess scenarios for the bank at weekend meetings, which analysts speculate could involve Credit Suisse selling or winding down some units or even being bought outright by a rival.
The frantic efforts to prop up Credit Suisse come as assurances from policymakers – from the European Central Bank to US President Joe Biden – that the global banking system is certain to fail to quell fears of wider problems in the sector.
Already this week, major US banks had to step in with a $30 billion lifeline for smaller lender First Republic, while US banks collectively sought a record $153 billion in emergency liquidity from the Federal Reserve in recent days.
It surpassed a previous high during the most acute phase of the financial crisis about 15 years ago.
This reflected “funding and liquidity pressures on banks, driven by weakened depositor confidence,” said credit rating agency Moody’s, which this week downgraded its outlook for the US banking system to negative.
In Washington, the focus turned to greater oversight to ensure that banks – and their executives – are held accountable.
Biden – who earlier this week promised Americans their deposits are safe – urged Congress on Friday to give regulators more power over the banking sector, including using higher fines, clawing back money and barring officials from failed banks, a White House statement said.
Market problems linger as First Republic shares tank
Bank stocks globally have been battered since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, raising questions about other weaknesses in the broader financial system.
Shares in Switzerland’s second-largest bank closed up eight percent on Friday, and Morningstar Direct said Credit Suisse had seen more than $450 million in net outflows from its U.S. and European managed funds from March 13 to 15.
With investor confidence far from restored, analysts, investors and bankers believe the lending facility from the Swiss central bank just made it time to figure out what to do next. The move made it the first major global bank to take up a lifeline since the 2008 financial crisis.
Swiss bank Credit Suisse shares plummet to record lows
U.S. regional bank stocks were also sharply lower, as the KBW Regional Bank Index fell 5.6 percent, with PacWest down about 15 percent and First Republic down more than 30 percent. The S&P 500 banking index fell 4.5 percent, as JPMorgan and Bank of America fell about four percent each.
While support from some of the biggest names in US banking prevented a collapse, investors were surprised by First Republic’s late disclosures about its cash position and how much emergency liquidity it needed.
“It appears that the damage may have been done to First Republic’s brand reputation. (It) is a shame because it was a well-run, high-quality bank,” said John Petrides, portfolio manager at Tocqueville Asset Management.
Earlier on Friday, SVB Financial Group said it had filed for a court-supervised reorganization, days after its former banking unit SVB was taken over by US regulators.
Investors are also increasingly seeking insurance against a sudden crash in stocks, fearing more turmoil awaits the markets. Gold prices rose more than 1 percent as banking sector jitters pushed investors toward “safe haven” assets.
Authorities have repeatedly tried to stress that the current turmoil is different from the global financial crisis 15 years ago because banks are better capitalized and funds more readily available – but their assurances have often fallen on deaf ears.
In an unusual move, the ECB held an ad hoc supervisory board meeting, the second this week, to discuss the strains and volatility in the banking sector.
Regulators were told that deposits were stable across the euro area and that exposure to Credit Suisse was immaterial, a source familiar with the meeting told Reuters.
An ECB spokesperson declined to comment.
Attention has now shifted to the Fed’s policy decisions next week and whether it will stick with its aggressive rate hikes as it tries to bring inflation under control.
A German government spokesman said the current situation with European banks was not comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, adding during a regular news briefing that there was no cause for concern for the country’s banking sector.
Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after a three-way meeting between the country’s government, banking regulator and central bank that the talks were being held as part of efforts to monitor possible effects on the stability of the financial system.
“Japan’s financial system remains stable as a whole,” Kishida told a news briefing.
Singapore, Australia and New Zealand also said they were monitoring financial markets but were confident their local banks were well capitalized and could withstand major shocks.
Your Money: Managing Chaos in the Financial World