Credit Suisse executives depart after Archegos and Greensill losses
Credit Suisse has cancelled the bonuses of its directors, slashed its dividend and announced the departure of two senior executives as the bank revealed £3.4bn in losses from the collapse of the Archegos investment fund.
The Swiss bank is reeling from heavy exposure to Archegos and the business bank Greensill, which suffered successive but unrelated financial blow-ups.
Archegos, a previously almost unknown US hedge fund, was forced to liquidate almost $20bn (£14bn) in assets last week in a fire sale that reverberated around global markets, while the Greensill, a supply chainlender created by the Australian banker Lex Greensill, is in liquidation and mired in political scandal. Both caused heavy losses among banks that had backed them.
Credit Suisse on Tuesday reported losses of 4.4bn Swiss francs (£3.4bn) related to Archegos, and said it will provide an update on losses from four Greensill funds in a few days.
Brian Chin, the chief executive of Credit Suisse’s investment bank, and Lara Warner, the chief risk and compliance officer, will both step down from their roles, Credit Suisse announced.
Thomas Gottstein, the Credit Suisse chief executive, said the Archegos loss was “unacceptable” and acknowledged that it and Greensill had caused “significant concern”.
“Serious lessons will be learned,” he said. “Credit Suisse remains a formidable institution with a rich history.”
The Zürich-based bank also announced that its board would not be receiving bonuses for the financial year to 1 April, and cut its dividend by two-thirds, from 0.29 to 0.10 Swiss francs per share. In a letter to shareholders setting out the measures, Urs Rohner, who has forfeited his fee of 1.5m Swiss francs (£1.2m), particularly emphasised the Archegos losses as the cause of the dividend cut.
Credit Suisse also delayed a shareholder vote to confirm its board of directors.
The bank’s shares have fallen by 19% since 29 March, when the extent of the Archegos chaos became clear.
Archegos was a fund run by and managing the personal fortune of Bill Hwang, an investor who had built up large positions in companies worth billions of pounds, despite a previous insider trading conviction.
Credit Suisse’s investment bank under Chin acted as prime broker to Archegos funds, lending it large sums of money to allow it to build up bigger positions in the shareholdings of quoted companies. Hwang had placed big bets that certain stocks, including Chinese technology company Baidu and US media group ViacomCBS, would see their share prices rise. When the stocks fell, both Hwang and his lending banks suffered heavy losses.
Greensill collapsed after insurers and financial backers including Credit Suisse withdrew their support for its supply chain finance funds, which lent money against the promise of future income from unpaid invoices at customer businesses including the metals group GFG Alliance. Greensill was heavily exposed to GFG, whose trading was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Credit Suisse, whose high net worth clients invested their savings in backing bundles of Greensill loans, including funds lent to GFG, has turned to the courts to recover cash from both GFG businesses and Greensill’s administrators. GFG boss Sanjeev Gupta insists that GFG does not yet need to pay back billions of pounds lent by Greensill, and is scrambling to find a lenders to prevent the collapse of his steel companies.
Credit Suisse’s role at the centre of the two prominent collapses was the latest failure to shine a spotlight on potential problems with its risk management: it also faced losses from the Wirecard and Luckin Coffee scandals.
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