The Swiss government is in talks about the continued existence of the Credit Suisse bank. Yesterday it was announced that the government is guaranteeing more than fifty billion euros, after the bank ran into major financial problems. According to Marco Groot of consultancy firm Eight Days A Week, the media is overreacting. ‘This is not a very large bank, but one with a phenomenal reputation.’
Groot mainly responds to the statements of the American news channel CNN. It talks about a ‘mega-bank’ that would not survive without a capital injection. Exaggerated, he thinks. ‘The press sometimes plays quite a bad role here.’
According to Groot, Credit Suisse is not a systemic bank, but more of an asset manager. ‘It is not a credit bank, but it is a bank with a phenomenal reputation worldwide. Both as a brand name and as an asset manager.’ In terms of size, the bank ranks around the forty-first position worldwide. The fact that top consultations are still being held about the bank is, according to Groot, a good sign. ‘As Switzerland you want to keep the number two bank alive.’
The capital injection from the government was necessary after the Saudi National Bank indicated that it did not want to invest any additional money in Crédit Suisse. “Not because they’re shaking their hands off it, but because then they’d hold more than 10 percent of the shares. That has regulatory consequences where they don’t feel like it right now,’ says Groot, who finds the Saudis’ statements ‘clumsy’.
According to Groot, there is still a chance that the bank will collapse. ‘But yesterday it was said that fifty billion is ready to guarantee the future of the bank. So if the bank collapses, it will also be saved immediately.’
bull shit bingo
CEO Ulrich Koerner has told staff to keep calm and not worry about the future. The bank is engaged in a ‘strategic transformation’. According to Groot, this includes a lot of ‘bullshit bingo’. ‘I just wrote it down: accelerated transformation, reduced risk profile, well on track, maintain strong discipline. Every company should always be working on that. But something went wrong somewhere along the way.’
The bank sent a 39-page document to customers a few weeks ago, in which the CEO provides insights into the bank’s finances. “I think he’s trying very hard to cut costs and get the bank healthy again, but things like this don’t help, of course.”