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Credit Suisse execs out as bank takes $4.7 billion hit from hedge fund collapse

The collapse last month of US hedge fund Archegos Capital cost Credit Suisse nearly $4.7 billion and two of the bank’s top executives their jobs.

The Swiss bank said Tuesday that it was likely to report a pretax loss of 900 million Swiss francs ($959 million) for the first quarter of this year after taking a charge of 4.4 billion Swiss francs ($4.7 billion) in respect of the failure of Archegos.

“The significant loss … relating to the failure of a US-based hedge fund is unacceptable,” CEO Thomas Gottstein said in a statement. “Serious lessons will be learned. Credit Suisse remains a formidable institution with a rich history.”

Credit Suisse said that its top investment banker Brian Chin and chief risk officer Lara Warner would both be leaving the bank. Other members of the executive board will not receive bonuses for 2020, and board chairman Urs Rohner will give up 1.5 million Swiss francs ($1.6 million) in compensation.

Credit Suisse also said it would slash its dividend and suspend share buybacks.

Archegos used borrowed money to build massive positions in stocks including media companies ViacomCBS and Discovery, and was unable to pay back lenders when share prices dropped.

The implosion of the hedge fund, which managed the fortune of investor Bill Hwang, has triggered calls for increased regulation of US firms that invest on behalf of families or a small number of clients. Japan’s Nomura was also among the banks exposed to losses when Archegos collapsed. It has warned of losses of up to $2 billion. Another Japanese lender, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, is expecting a loss of about $300 million.

“We need transparency and strong oversight to ensure that the next hedge fund blowup doesn’t take the economy down with it,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement last month.

One scandal after another

Archegos is the second major stumble for Credit Suisse in recent weeks. Earlier in March, it froze $10 billion in investment funds connected to failed UK supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital, which provided cash advances to companies owed money by customers.

The bank’s reputation has also been damaged by an accounting scandal at Luckin Coffee. Credit Suisse acted as an underwriter when the company went public on the Nasdaq in 2019. The Chinese firm was pulled off the US exchange last year after it fraudulently inflated sales.

The missteps have weighed on the bank’s stock. Shares in Credit Suisse have fallen by more than 10% this year, and have lost roughly a quarter of their value since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Rival Swiss bank UBS has gained 21% so far this year, while the KBW Bank Index, which tracks 24 US banks, is up 25%.

Credit Suisse said in a statement that its involvement with both Archegos and Greensill “require substantial further review and scrutiny.”

“The board of directors has launched investigations into both of these matters which will not only focus on the direct issues arising from each of them, but also reflect on the broader consequences and lessons learned,” it added.

Gottstein was appointed CEO in early 2020 when his predecessor Tidjane Thiam quit after Credit Suisse admitted spying on former employees. Thiam denied knowledge of the surveillance operations but said they had “disturbed” the bank and should not have happened on his watch.

CNN

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