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Qatar Investment Authority raises stake in Credit Suisse to just under 7%

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen in Bern

By Hadeel Al Sayegh, Oliver Hirt and Andrew Mills

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has increased its stake in Credit Suisse to just under 7%, becoming the Swiss bank's second-largest shareholder after Saudi National Bank, in a sign that its Gulf investor base is growing in importance.

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) bought 139.03 million shares in the Swiss lender, Refinitiv data shows based on a filing on Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission which quoted its most recent ownership holding as of December 31, 2022.

The new shares bring the QIA's ownership in Credit Suisse to 6.87%, amounting to 272.25 million shares, from 5.57% as reported in its last SEC filing in November.

Credit Suisse declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Monday and the QIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Credit Suisse's shares rose 2.2% on Monday to close at 3.15 Swiss francs.

U.S. investment firm Harris Associates, one of Credit Suisse's largest shareholders, shed its holding to about 5%, according to regulatory filings on January 11from a stake of about 10% in the bank last August.

Saudi National Bank owns a stake worth about 10% in the Swiss lender bank after it became an anchor investor in Credit Suisse's $4.3 billion capital raise which began in October to fund the bank's revamp and restructuring. Saudi Arabian conglomerate Olayan Group owns a stake of about 3%, Eikon data shows. SNB, along with the QIA and Olayan Group, account for about 20% of Credit Suisse shares.

Credit Suisse outlined plans in October to raise 4 billion Swiss francs from investors, cut thousands of jobs and shift its focus from investment banking towards its rich clients.

The announcement followed a difficult few weeks when the one-time respected Swiss institution had even become a 'meme stock' at the centre of a social media storm.

Once a symbol for Swiss reliability, the bank's reputation has been tarnished by a series of scandals, including an unprecedented prosecution at home involving laundering money for a criminal gang.

In 2021, the bank took a $5.5 billion loss from the unravelling of U.S. investment firm Archegos and had to freeze $10 billion worth of supply chain finance funds linked to insolvent British financier Greensill, highlighting risk-management failings.

(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh in Dubai, Oliver Hirt in Zurich and Andrew Mills in Doha; Editing by Nick Zieminski)