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Credit Suisse in firing line after Archegos losses

by Business News Report

Pressure was mounting on Credit Suisse on Tuesday over losses linked to the downfall of Archegos Capital, with analysts and investors warning dividend and share buyback plans may need to go on hold. Losses at Archegos, a family office run by former Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang, sparked a sell-off in bank stocks on Monday as investors feared they would be forced to take big write-downs after extending billions of dollars in leverage to the fund. Global lenders may lose more than $6 billion on Archegos, sources familiar with trades involving the U.S. investment firm have said. Credit Suisse and Japan’s Nomura are set to bear the brunt of this, according to statements from the banks and sources, with one source close to the Swiss lender saying its losses could be as high as $4 billion. The bank has declined to comment on the size of losses.

Credit Suisse’s shares fell further on Tuesday, trading down 3.6% at 1355 GMT, taking their loss so far this week to 16%. Shares in most other major European banks were up in morning trade. U.S. banks were trading slightly higher premarket, with Morgan Stanley up 0.7%, Goldman Sachs up 0.3%, JPMorgan 0.2% higher and Citigroup up 0.2%. The prospect of big losses at Credit Suisse is piling pressure on the lender’s management, already reeling from the fallout surrounding collapsed supply chain finance company Greensill. On Tuesday Ethos, which advises shareholders on corporate governance, said Credit Suisse investors should vote against board and executive pay at its upcoming annual meeting.

“These new cases add up to an incredible number of governance failures,” Ethos Foundation Chief Executive Vincent Kaufmann said. Investors are likely to question why Credit Suisse appears to have suffered larger losses on Archegos than some of the fund’s other brokers. The brokerage arm of Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group on Tuesday flagged potential losses at its European subsidiary of around $300 million related to a U.S. client, declining to comment on whether that client was Archegos. Two sources close to the matter confirmed reports that several of Archegos’ biggest banks discussed through Thursday night whether they could come to an agreement to limit the impact of unwinding the firm’s positions.

However no firm agreement was reached, and Goldman Sachs made a large block trade of stock, of around $3 billion-$4 billion, before the market opened Friday in a trade agreed with the fund, according to one of the sources.

Several analysts flagged on Tuesday that Credit Suisse’s share buyback programme and dividend may be at risk as a result of the scandal.

“The hits just keep coming for Credit Suisse,” wrote Eoin Mullany at Berenberg. “We believe Credit Suisse will need to suspend its share buyback while in the longer term we believe it will lead to it reassessing the way it takes and manages risk.” One Credit Suisse debt investor said the bank was unlikely to be able to restore its share buyback programme before 2023. The bank is also likely to face regulatory demands for a larger capital buffer and incur higher borrowing costs, the investor said, adding Credit Suisse may consider shrinking its private banking operations. Analysts at Citi said they estimated the bank’s pretax losses at around $3.5 billion.

Credit Suisse declined to comment on its buyback plan or dividend policy. The bank had planned to buy back at least 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.06 billion) worth of stock this year. Its regulator has already told it to hold more capital due to the Greensill fallout, which the bank said at the time would not affect its buyback plans. Other major banks have so far not said they expect a major impact from the downfall of Archegos, with Deutsche Bank saying on Monday it had not incurred losses after “de-risking” its Archegos exposure. Goldman and Morgan Stanley were quick to offload shares on Friday, averting a material financial impact, sources familiar with their trades have said. Archegos’s problems started last week when a disappointing stock sale by media giant ViacomCBS triggered devastating bank margin calls for the fund, three sources familiar with the matter said on Monday. Regulators in the United States, UK, Switzerland and Japan have all said they are closely monitoring developments.

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