Credit Suisse’s riskiest bonds face possible wipe-out if Swiss authorities follow through with nationalization
Credit Suisse Group AG’s riskiest bonds pared their advance on Sunday on concern that Swiss authorities may need to nationalize the bank if a deal with UBS Group AG falls through. If that happens, the bonds will likely be wiped-out as part of the rescue plan.
Bonds including the riskiest portion of the capital stack, Additional Tier 1 notes, were quoted at prices ranging from the high 30s to mid-50 cents on the dollar, a drop of about 20 cents from roughly an hour earlier, according to people with knowledge of the matter, asking not to be named because price quotes in the over-the-counter market are private. They’re still higher than their close on Friday, when prices ranged around the 20s and 30s.
It’s a swift turnaround for the narrative, which had shifted positive on Sunday on optimism that the up to $1 billion bid by UBS would’ve avoided a scenario that saw bondholders suffer punitive losses on some of Credit Suisse’s riskiest bonds.
The securities, introduced after the global financial crisis, are designed to help banks bolster capital to meet regulations designed to prevent failure. They can be written off if a bank’s capital levels fall below a specified level. In Credit Suisse’s case its common equity tier 1 would need to fall below 7% of its risk-weighted assets.
The Swiss authorities are now considering either taking over the bank in full or holding a significant equity stake if UBS’s takeover falls through, although nothing has been agreed. Reuters reported on Sunday afternoon that the Swiss authorities are examining imposing losses on bondholders as part of a rescue plan.
Several banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Jefferies Financial Group have kept their bond sales and trading desks open through the weekend for Credit Suisse bonds, a rare occurrence except in times of stress.