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Shareholders demand answers over UBS rescue deal

A Credit score Suisse Group AG financial institution department in Bern, Switzerland, on Thursday, March 16, 2023.

Stefan Wermuth | Bloomberg | Getty Photographs

Credit score Suisse Chairman Axel Lehmann on Tuesday informed shareholders he was “really sorry” for the collapse that led to the financial institution’s controversial takeover by UBS.

“It’s a unhappy day for you and for us too. I can perceive the bitterness, the anger and the shock of all those that are upset, overwhelmed and affected by the developments,” Lehmann mentioned on the financial institution’s annual assembly.

“I apologize that we had been now not in a position to stem the lack of belief that had amassed over time, and for disappointing you.”

A police presence was established early Tuesday on the venue, as shareholders started arriving in droves, hoping for solutions and accountability.

Swiss authorities brokered an emergency rescue of the stricken financial institution by its bigger home rival for simply 3 billion Swiss francs, over the course of a weekend in late March. It adopted a collapse in Credit score Suisse’s deposits and share worth amid fears of a worldwide banking disaster, however the deal stays mired in authorized and logistical challenges. Neither UBS nor Credit score Suisse shareholders had been allowed a vote on the deal.

In an announcement Sunday, the workplace of the legal professional common confirmed that Switzerland’s Federal Prosecutor is investigating potential breaches of Swiss federal legislation by authorities officers, regulators and prime executives at Credit score Suisse and UBS.

Each banks declined to touch upon Monday.

Commentators have highlighted the significance of the deal’s success for Swiss authorities towards a febrile political backdrop. The dearth of enter from shareholders, bondholders and Swiss taxpayers in UBS’ acquisition of its embattled rival has sparked widespread anger.

Talking outdoors the annual assembly, Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of Ethos Basis which represents pension funds comprising between 3% and 5% of Credit score Suisse shareholders, informed CNBC that they’d “misplaced some huge cash” and “must know what administration is doing.”

Potential programs of motion embody “attempting to retrieve a few of the viable pay that was granted for former administration, who might have failed of their duties to guard shareholders’ pursuits,” he mentioned.

“We’re nonetheless on the lookout for potentialities — it is fairly tough with the Swiss firm legislation to show the harm. Mismanagement of an organization will not be per se one thing we are able to concretely act towards former members of the administration or present members of the administration, however nonetheless we have to make sure that they gave the entire reality to buyers and to the market, so there may be nonetheless open query,” Kaufmann informed CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche.

Holders of Credit score Suisse’s AT1 bond devices, which had been topic to a $17 billion wipeout as a part of the UBS takeover, final week instructed a worldwide legislation agency to pursue dialogue and doable litigation with Swiss authorities.

“There may be nonetheless an opportunity that the varied actors will acknowledge and proper the errors made in rapidly orchestrating this merger,” Thomas Werlen, managing associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which is representing a “various array” of affected bondholders in Switzerland, the U.Okay. and U.S., mentioned in a launch Monday.

“Whereas we’re actually ready to pursue no matter proceedings are essential, a possible constructive engagement with the related stakeholders might forestall years of litigation. That shall be an necessary focus for us over the approaching weeks.”

UBS introduced final week that former CEO Sergio Ermotti would return to the helm of the brand new financial institution because it undertakes the massive process of integrating its fallen compatriot into its enterprise.

UBS will maintain its personal AGM on Wednesday, with additional readability anticipated on plans for the brand new built-in lender. Swiss regulator FINMA may even maintain a press convention on Wednesday.

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported Sunday, citing one supply, that plans for the brand new entity embody a 20%-30% lower to its mixed world workforce.