Credit Suisse Shares: Weak financials, shaky management: What’s wrong at Credit Suisse?
Switzerland’s second-largest bank, Credit Suisse, has been in the news due to its falling share price, shaky financials, and repeated management revamp. In the last year, the bank’s valuation has fallen nearly 60 per cent.
Credit Suisse’s current market cap is $10.8 billion. In October 2021, it was over $25 billion.
For investors, the development has brought back fears of a 2008 Lehman Brothers-like crisis. Thus far, all efforts to allay such fears have failed to make an impact.
In a memo released by the bank’s CEO, Ulrich Koerner, to the staff, he assured them that the bank has a strong capital base and liquidity position. However, the bank’s share price continued the nosedive.
What is wrong at Credit Suisse?
There are several factors responsible for the crisis at Credit Suisse.
First, the bank has been reporting high losses for the last three quarters. This is worrying for the investors because its global peers, including Goldman Sachs, have been, on the other hand, reporting profits.
Also, Credit Suisse’s losses have widened in the last two quarters. It reported a loss of 1,907 million Swiss francs in Q2FY22. In Q1FY22, the losses stood at 1,326 million Swiss francs.
Second, Credit Suisse’s investment decisions have led to huge monetary losses in the past couple of years. The most notorious among all the deals were the Archegos Capital Management case.
The bank gave money aggressively to Archegos’ boss, Bill Hwang. However, the company soon collapsed. Credit Suisse failed to exit on time and lost over $5.5 billion.
In the second case, the loans to the supply chain network, Greensill Capital, too, were defaulted upon. The case has been going on for over five years.
Cumulatively, the bank has reportedly lost nearly $10 billion in the two cases alone, which is equal to its current market cap.
Third, the bank’s top leadership has seen several rejigs since 2020.
In 2020, then-CEO Tidjane Thiam was forced to quit after a spying scandal surfaced at the bank. Switzerland’s financial regulator said that the bank misled it about the scale of its surveillance.
His successor Thomas Gottstein was the CEO of the bank until July 2022. Credit Suisse then chose restructuring expert Ulrich Koerner as CEO. He is the current CEO of the bank.
Urs Rohner, former bank chairman, quit the office in 2021 after admitting that the bank had disappointed clients and shareholders.
His successor Antonio Horta-Osorio quit nine months later over breaking the quarantine rules during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, Axel Lehmann is the chairman of the bank.
The credit default swap (CDS), a bet on whether the borrower will survive or not, has touched the highest level since the 2008 crisis for Credit Suisse. It widened to 250 basis points. It was 57 basis points at the beginning of 2022. This simply means that not many investors are ready to bet on Credit Suisse’s survival.