Shareholders demand answers over UBS rescue deal

ZURICH, Switzerland – Local weather activists increase a ship throughout a protest forward of the annual basic assembly of Credit score Suisse, following the financial institution’s rapidly brokered takeover by UBS to forestall a monetary meltdown.

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Credit score Suisse Chairman Axel Lehmann on Tuesday advised shareholders he was “actually sorry” for the collapse that led to the financial institution’s controversial takeover by UBS.

“It’s a unhappy day for you and for us too. I can perceive the bitterness, the anger and the shock of all those that are upset, overwhelmed and affected by the developments,” Lehmann stated on the financial institution’s annual assembly, the primary time its leaders have addressed the general public because the rescue.

“I apologize that we had been now not capable of stem the lack of belief that had accrued over time, and for disappointing you.”

A police presence was established early Tuesday on the venue, as protesters and shareholders started arriving in droves, hoping for solutions and accountability following the demise of the 167-year-old Swiss establishment.

Swiss authorities brokered an emergency rescue of the stricken financial institution by its bigger home rival for simply 3 billion Swiss francs, over the course of a weekend in late March.

It adopted a collapse in Credit score Suisse’s deposits and share worth amid fears of a worldwide banking disaster, however the deal stays mired in authorized and logistical challenges. Neither UBS nor Credit score Suisse shareholders had been allowed a vote on the deal.

“Till the top, we fought laborious to discover a answer, however in the end there have been solely two choices: deal or chapter,” Lehmann advised shareholders. “The merger needed to undergo.”

In an announcement Sunday, the workplace of the legal professional basic confirmed that Switzerland’s Federal Prosecutor is investigating potential breaches of Swiss federal regulation by authorities officers, regulators and high executives at Credit score Suisse and UBS.

Each banks declined to touch upon Monday.

Commentators have highlighted the significance of the deal’s success for Swiss authorities in opposition to a febrile political backdrop. The dearth of enter from shareholders, bondholders and Swiss taxpayers in UBS’ acquisition of its embattled rival has sparked widespread anger.

Talking outdoors the annual assembly, Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of Ethos Basis which represents pension funds comprising between 3% and 5% of Credit score Suisse shareholders, advised CNBC that that they had “misplaced some huge cash” and “must know what administration is doing.”

Potential programs of motion embody “attempting to retrieve among the viable pay that was granted for former administration, who might have failed of their duties to guard shareholders’ pursuits,” he stated.

“We’re nonetheless searching for prospects — it is fairly troublesome with the Swiss firm regulation to show the injury. Mismanagement of an organization isn’t per se one thing we are able to concretely act in opposition to former members of the administration or present members of the administration, however nonetheless we have to ensure that they gave the entire reality to buyers and to the market, so there may be nonetheless open query,” Kaufmann advised CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche.

Holders of Credit score Suisse’s AT1 bond devices, which had been topic to a $17 billion wipeout as a part of the UBS takeover, final week instructed a worldwide regulation agency to pursue dialogue and doable litigation with Swiss authorities.

“There may be nonetheless an opportunity that the assorted actors will acknowledge and proper the errors made in rapidly orchestrating this merger,” Thomas Werlen, managing accomplice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which is representing a “numerous array” of affected bondholders in Switzerland, the U.Ok. and U.S., stated in a launch Monday.

“Whereas we’re actually ready to pursue no matter proceedings are needed, a possible constructive engagement with the related stakeholders might stop years of litigation. That shall be an necessary focus for us over the approaching weeks.”

UBS introduced final week that former CEO Sergio Ermotti would return to the helm of the brand new financial institution because it undertakes the large process of integrating its fallen compatriot into its enterprise.

UBS will maintain its personal AGM on Wednesday, with additional readability anticipated on plans for the brand new built-in lender. Swiss regulator FINMA may even maintain a press convention on Wednesday.

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported Sunday, citing one supply, that plans for the brand new entity embody a 20%-30% reduce to its mixed world workforce.

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