By Mark Thompson, CNN
The fate of Credit Suisse could be decided in the next 24 hours after a torrid week for Switzerland’s second biggest bank.
Local media reported that the Swiss cabinet had gathered for a crisis meeting at 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) Saturday to discuss the ailing bank’s future, as reports swirled of a possible takeover by its biggest Swiss rival, UBS. A spokesperson for the Swiss finance ministry declined to comment.
Shares of the bank lost 25% over the course of the week, despite an emergency $54 billion loan from the Swiss National Bank. The price of financial contracts designed to protect investors against possible losses on its bonds soared to record levels. More than $450 million was pulled from European and US funds managed by the bank between Monday and Wednesday, according to Morningstar.
The lifeline from the Swiss central bank, announced late Wednesday night after the stock had crashed to a new record low, only bought Credit Suisse some time.
Reuters and the Financial Times, citing people familiar with the matter, both reported that Swiss regulators were urging UBS to agree a rescue of Credit Suisse before markets open Monday to shore up confidence in the country’s banking system. The FT said the boards of UBS and Credit Suisse were expected to meet separately over the weekend.
Credit Suisse and UBS both declined to comment to Reuters.
BlackRock, which owns 4% of Credit Suisse, denied a separate report in the Financial Times that it was drawing up an alternative bid for all or part of the beleagured bank.
“BlackRock is not participating in any plans to acquire all or any part of Credit Suisse, and has no interest in doing so,” a BlackRock spokesperson told CNN.
Credit Suisse, which is among the 30 most important banks in the global financial system, has been on the ropes for years following a series of scandals, huge losses and strategic missteps. Its stock is down 75% over the past 12 months. But the crisis of confidence escalated rapidly this month.
The failure of Silicon Valley Bank last week, the biggest by a US lender since the global financial crisis of 2008, sent investors fleeing other players perceived as weak.
Then Credit Suisse dropped another bombshell. Publishing its annual report on Tuesday, the 167-year-old bank acknowledged “material weakness” in its financial reporting, adding it had failed to adequately identify potential risks to its financial statements.
The following day, its biggest shareholder — the Saudi National Bank — made clear it would not be pumping any more money into the bank, after spending $1.5 billion last year for a stake of almost 10%. That spooked investors.
In a note on Thursday, JPMorgan banking analysts wrote that a takeover by UBS was the most probable endgame.
UBS would likely spin off Credit Suisse’s Swiss business since the combined market share would make up about 30% of Switzerland’s domestic banking market and mean “too much concentration risk and market share control,” they added.
— Anna Cooban and Rob North contributed to this article.
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