Credit Suisse to raise S$5.5 billion in rights issue, ditches Swiss unit IPO

Switzerland's national flags fly beside the logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse, on April 24, 2017.
Switzerland's national flags fly beside the logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse, on April 24, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH (REUTERS) - Credit Suisse will raise around 4 billion Swiss francs (S$5.57 billion) through a rights issue to catch up to European rivals on capital, ditching plans to float a minority stake in its Swiss banking unit.

Keen to shore up its balance sheet, Switzerland's second-biggest bank had announced in 2015 plans to sell 20-30 per cent of its highly profitable Swiss business through an initial public offering (IPO) for up to 4 billion francs.

However, chief executive Tidjane Thiam said in February the bank was examining alternatives to the IPO, which had been pencilled in for the second half of this year.

"This capital raise will allow us to continue to invest in growth at highly attractive returns; to strengthen balance sheet resilience for our clients and other stakeholders; and to afford the costs associated with our ongoing restructuring plans," Mr Thiam, who took over as CEO in July 2015, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The bank expects to have a common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio, a closely watched measure of balance sheet strength, of approximately 13.4 percent and a tier 1 leverage ratio of around 5.1 percent.

Reuters had reported Credit Suisse was considering a stock sale at group level and was likely to make a decision in April on how to proceed.

After Germany's Deutsche Bank raised cash from the market earlier this year, Credit Suisse had risked being one of the lower-capitalised banks in its peer group despite having tapped shareholders for around 6 billion francs in late 2015.

"The capital raise should be enough to allay concerns in the near term but doesn't really give the franchise the flexibility to see it through a downturn or meaningfully compete in (investment banking business) Global Markets," analysts at Bernstein wrote. "We feel this raise doesn't really take capital totally out of the concern zone - just makes it cycle/earnings dependent for the next 12 months," said Bernstein, which rates the stock "underperform".

The bank reported net profit of 596 million francs for the first three months of 2017, its highest quarterly profit since a sweeping restructuring launched by Mr Thiam and beating even the highest estimate in a Reuters poll of analysts.

The results provide some relief for Credit Suisse, which has faced an investor revolt over proposed bonuses to the bank's top managers and raids at three of its offices in a Dutch-led tax evasion investigation.

Credit Suisse is also coming off 5.65 billion francs in losses since 2015 amid Mr Thiam's push to grow in wealth management while shrinking the investment bank, a shift that the bank expects will cost more than 10,000 jobs. REUTERS