Switzerland to hold press conference amid Credit Suisse troubles

Swiss leaders are holding a press conference on Sunday evening following several media reports that banking giant UBS is in talks to acquire smaller rival Credit Suisse to head off further turmoil in the global banking market.

The Federal Council, the seven-member governing body including Swiss President Alain Berset, is expected to announce that UBS is acquiring Credit Suisse in a potential deal brokered by the Swiss government.

Credit Suisse is designated by the Financial Stability Board, an international body that monitors the global financial system, as one of the world’s systemically important banks. This means regulators believe its uncontrolled bankruptcy would have repercussions throughout the financial system, much like the collapse of Lehman Brothers 15 years ago.

Sunday’s press conference follows the collapse of two major US banks last week, which prompted a frantic and broad response from the US government to prevent any further bank runs. Yet global financial markets have been on edge since Credit Suisse’s share price began to fall this week.

The 167-year-old Credit Suisse has already received a $50 billion loan from the Swiss National Bank, which briefly sent the bank’s share price soaring. However, this decision did not seem sufficient to stem an outflow of deposits, according to the dispatches.

Yet many of Credit Suisse’s problems are unique and do not overlap with the weaknesses that brought down Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, whose failures led to a major bailout effort by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Reserve. federal. Therefore, their fall does not necessarily signal the start of a financial crisis similar to the one that occurred in 2008.

The press conference will cap off a very volatile week for Credit Suisse, including on Wednesday when its shares plunged to a record low after its biggest investor, the Saudi National Bank, said it would no longer invest money in the bank to avoid tripping. a regulation that would come into force if its stake increased by approximately 10%.

On Friday, shares fell 8% to close at $2 on the Swiss exchange. The stock experienced a long downward slide: it traded at more than 80 francs in 2007.

Its current problems began after Credit Suisse announced on Tuesday that executives had identified “significant weaknesses” in the bank’s internal controls over financial reporting late last year. This stoked fears that Credit Suisse could be the next domino to fall.

Although smaller than its Swiss rival UBS, Credit Suisse still wields considerable influence, with $1.4 trillion in assets under management. The firm has major trading desks around the world, caters to the rich and the wealthy through its wealth management business, and is a leading M&A advisor to global companies. Notably, Credit Suisse did not need government assistance in 2008 during the financial crisis, unlike UBS.

Following reforms adopted after the 2008 financial crisis, Credit Suisse is also among 30 financial institutions known as global systemically important banks, which have tighter supervision and higher capital requirements.

If it were based in the United States, Credit Suisse would be the fifth largest bank in the country, after the “too big to fail” businesses of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

Despite the banking turmoil, the European Central Bank on Thursday approved a steep half-percentage point hike in interest rates to try to rein in stubbornly high inflation, saying Europe’s banking sector is “resilient”, with strong finances.

ECB President Christine Lagarde said banks “are in a completely different position than they were in 2008” during the financial crisis, partly because of tighter government regulation.

The Swiss bank has been pushing to raise funds from investors and roll out a new strategy to overcome a series of problems, including bad bets on hedge funds, repeated changes in its management and a spy scandal involving UBS.

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