Credit Suisse stops new business in Russia, cuts exposure

The bank added that it has moved roles out of Russia and is assisting employees to relocate elsewhere. PHOTO: AFP

ZURICH (BLOOMBERG) - Credit Suisse Group has stopped pursuing new business in Russia and is cutting its exposure to the country, following global peers in pulling back after the invasion of Ukraine.

The Swiss bank is helping its clients unwind their Russia exposure, according to an internal document seen by Bloomberg.

The bank added that it has moved roles out of the country and is assisting employees to relocate elsewhere.

A spokesman for Credit Suisse confirmed the content of the document.

Credit Suisse joins a growing list of lenders who are either pulling out of Russia altogether or paring back their business, in response to the ongoing military assault on its neighbor.

Chief executive Thomas Gottstein said on March 15 that the bank has "a very well managed risk management around the situation".

The Zurich-based bank said earlier this month it had an exposure of 848 million francs to Russia (S$1.2 billion) at the end of last year and about 125 employees there. About 4 per cent of assets in the wealth management unit were with Russian clients, the bank has said.

Credit Suisse shares pared gains after the news, trading at 7.61 francs as of 3.12pm in Zurich.

The lender is struggling to emerge from a series of scandals in 2021 that prompted multi-billion-dollar losses.

The bank said its net credit exposure includes derivatives and financing exposures in the investment bank, trade finance exposures in the Swiss Universal Bank and Lombard and other loans in international wealth management. These net exposures have been reduced since the end of 2021, it said.

Zurich-based rival UBS Group so far has not said what it will do with its Russia business. The bank announced earlier in March that it has about US$200 million (S$270 million) in exposure to Russian assets used as collateral in loans at its wealth unit.

Credit Suisse said on Monday that it is applying all sanctions, in particular those issued by the European Union, Britain, the United States and Switzerland. The role of Switzerland as a place for Russia's wealthy to stash their money is coming under increased scrutiny, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticised the nation earlier this month.

The government in Bern said last week that it had received notification of some US$6 billion in assets held by sanctioned individuals. Wealthy Russians with links to President Vladimir Putin have seen their assets frozen across the world, while other rich bank clients who borrowed against Russian assets have to come up with more collateral after those securities plunged in value.

Swiss private bank Julius Baer said last week that it has exposure to a number of individuals "in the low single digits" who have been sanctioned since the invasion of Ukraine, and is not taking new business from clients resident in Russia.

Remote video URL

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.