Financial Results

Credit Suisse Notes Internal Controls "Material Weaknesses," Shares Plunge, Trading Halted

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 15 March 2023


After the delayed publication of its 2022 annual report, the banking group said there had been some issues with its internal controls. It also said that while the pace of outflows had slowed, they had not yet stopped. Today, shares plunged, and trading in the stocks of a number of European banks was temporarily halted.

(Updated with share price plunge, trading halts.)

Shares in Credit Suisse plunged today by more than 20 per cent and trading was temporarily halted, after its shares slipped following the bank's delayed annual report. The document, issued yesterday, identified "material weaknesses" in its internal controls over financial reporting. Switzerland’s second-largest bank said it had not yet stemmed customer outflows.

As investors worried about the western world's banking sector because of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, shares in Credit Suisse and a number of other European lenders came under pressure. 

Saudi National Bank’s chairman - the largest investor in Credit Suisse - Ammar Al Khudairy has reportedly ruled out injecting further funds into Credit Suisse if there was another call for additional liquidity. Al Khudairy told Reuters that Saudi National Bank cannot provide the Swiss bank with more financial assistance, saying: “We cannot because we would go above 10 per cent. It’s a regulatory issue.”

Share trading was also temporarily halted today in BNP Paribas; Societe Generale. Societe Generale; UniCredit and Monte dei Paschi, reports said.

Last week, the lender, which operates in jurisdictions around the world, jolted investors by saying it was delaying release of the annual report following a call with US regulators. 

"As of 31 December 2022, the Group’s internal control over financial reporting was not effective, and for the same reasons, management has reassessed and has reached the same conclusion regarding 31 December 2021," the bank said in the report. 

Around 1 pm Swiss time today, shares in the lender were down more than 25 per cent. Global markets have been rattled by the collapse of US-based Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and the signs that rising interest rates are  hurting sectors such as technology.

The bank, which has suffered from a series of mishaps and scandals, logged more than SFr110 billion ($112.24 billion) in customer outlflows. Credit Suisse said "outflows (had) stabilised to much lower levels but had not yet reversed." (To see its full-year results, click here.)

The troubles come at a tough time for the wider banking industry following the collapse late last week of Silicon Valley Bank.

A report by Reuters (14 April) said the cost of insuring against a Credit Suisse debt default also rose to a record of 466 basis points, rising 49 bps from Friday's close.

In the preamble to the report, Axel Lehmann, chairman and Ulrich Körner, CEO, said: “The transformation we announced and started in 2022 is fully underway. Both in 2023 and 2024, we will be absolutely focused on the execution of our strategic plans, transforming into the new Credit Suisse with its leading franchises in Switzerland and in wealth management, strong capabilities in asset management and markets and the carveout of CS First Boston as a leading capital markets and advisory business.”

The bulk of the report spells out the ways in which the bank said it is restructuring its business, reducing risk exposures and pivoting to areas which are less capital intensive.

The report reiterated that at the end of last year, its Basel Common Equity Tier ratio – a standard international measure of a bank’s financial strength – was 14.1 per cent.

On 9 March Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources, that Julian Gooding was leaving the bank. He is given as chief compliance officer. Credit Suisse declined to comment to WealthBriefing and sister publications on the matter.

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