While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 20

UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher (right) shakes hands with Credit Suisse chairman Axel Lehmann after a press conference on March 19, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

UBS agrees to buy Credit Suisse as global regulators reassure markets

UBS agreed to buy rival Credit Suisse on Sunday, in an eleventh-hour merger engineered by Swiss authorities, and some of the world’s top central banks tried to reassure investors about the health of the banking system.

UBS will pay for 3 billion Swiss francs (S$4.34 billion) and assume up to US$5.4 billion in losses in a deal expected to close by the end of 2023. In a sign of a coordinated global response, the US Federal Reserve on Sunday said it had joined with central banks in Canada, England, Japan, the EU and Switzerland in a coordinated action to enhance market liquidity. The European Central Bank vowed to support euro zone banks with loans if needed, adding the Swiss rescue of Credit Suisse was “instrumental” for restoring calm.

Officials raced to rescue the 167-year-old Credit Suisse, among the world’s largest wealth managers, after a brutal week saw the second- and third-largest US bank failures in history. As one of 30 global banks seen as systemically important, a deal for Credit Suisse could ripple through global financial markets.


Canadian investigators seek seven missing after fire at Montreal building

Police and fire officials in Canada said they were preparing on Sunday to search the rubble of a Montreal heritage building for seven missing people believed trapped after flames engulfed the site last week.

Flowers were left across a courtyard from the beige stone building in the historic Old Montreal district as workers took steps to secure the three-storey structure which remained inaccessible to firefighters and police on Sunday morning.

It took more than 100 firefighters to contain the fire at the building, which broke out on Thursday morning and left several injured, said Marie-Eve Beausoleil, a spokesperson for the city’s fire department, the Service de securite incendie de Montreal.


French government defiant on pensions ahead of crucial votes

France’s government on Sunday held its ground over a bitterly contested pension reform rammed through parliament without a vote, a day before it faces crucial no-confidence motions.

“There will be no majority to bring the government down, but it will be a moment of truth,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said of the two efforts to unseat the cabinet planned for Monday afternoon.

Monday’s two no-confidence motions have been filed by a small group of centrist MPs and the far-right National Rally.


West Bank attack on German tourists a case of mistaken identity: PA spokesman

Palestinians who attacked German tourists in Nablus had feared they were Israeli forces, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security services said Sunday, stressing they have “zero hostility” towards Germany.

The two tourists drove on Saturday through central Nablus, a city in the north of the occupied West Bank, when they came under attack.

“A group of young men... hurled stones at a civilian car with Israeli licence plates,” a local Palestinian security official said on condition of anonymity.


Football: Arsenal open up eight-point lead at the top with win over Palace

Arsenal will head into the international break eight points clear in the Premier League title race after Bukayo Saka scored twice in a 4-1 home defeat of Crystal Palace on Sunday.

With chasers Manchester City otherwise engaged this weekend in the FA Cup, Arsenal took full advantage with Gabriel Martinelli opening the scoring and Granit Xhaka also on target.

Jeffrey Schlupp got Palace’s first goal in five league games to briefly raise their hopes in the second half but Arsenal were never going to miss the chance to tighten their grip on top spot as they chase a first English title for 19 years.


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