According to CNBC’s David Faber, Swiss banking giant UBS initiated talks on Sunday to buy troubled rival Credit Suisse for “significantly” more than 1 billion Swiss francs.
According to the Financial Times, UBS has agreed to buy the bank for more than $2 billion, a significant increase over the initial $1 billion bid announced earlier Sunday. According to Faber, the price of the agreement rose throughout the day’s negotiations.
At 2:30 p.m. EST, the Swiss government will conduct a press conference to discuss the agreement. When approached by CNBC, Credit Suisse and UBS declined to comment on the reports.
According to those familiar with the situation, Credit Suisse rejected UBS’ initial offer, claiming it was too low and would harm shareholders and staff.
According to a Sunday Bloomberg article, Swiss authorities are also exploring full or partial nationalization of the bank as an alternative to the UBS merger.
The UBS sale is being arranged swiftly, so the Swiss are bracing in case it falls through, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the situation. According to reports, the country is debating whether to take over the bank entirely or retain a major equity interest.
The UBS offer comes after Credit Suisse shares fell for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, despite an announcement that it will seek a loan from the Swiss central bank for up to 50 billion Swiss francs ($54 billion).
It had previously suffered a run of losses and scandals, and last week’s collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the closure of Signature Bank in the United States sent shares tumbling.
Credit Suisse has a significantly larger scope and potential impact on the global economy than US banks. With over 530 billion Swiss francs as of end-2022, the Swiss bank’s balance sheet is roughly double the size of Lehman Brothers when it failed. It is also significantly more globally interconnected, with many international subsidiaries, making Credit Suisse’s predicament even more critical.
Credit Suisse lost about 38% of its deposits in the fourth quarter of 2022 and stated in its delayed annual report released earlier this week that withdrawals had failed to stop. It announced a 7.3 billion Swiss franc net loss for 2022 and expects another “substantial” loss in 2023.
In order to address these long-standing challenges, the bank had already planned a substantial strategic revamp, with current CEO and Credit Suisse veteran Ulrich Koerner taking over in July.