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Shareholder group chides Credit Suisse after losses

·2-min read
The Actares shareholders association says "only a fundamental change in Credit Suisse's business culture can restore the confidence of clients, investors and other stakeholders".

One of Switzerland's top shareholders associations called on Credit Suisse on Friday to change its corporate strategy and culture following major losses due to risky operations.

The bank announced a net loss of 252 million Swiss francs ($275 million, 229 million euros) on Thursday and said it would issue new shares to reinforce its capital base.

The loss was mainly linked to the bankruptcies of British financial firm Greensill and US hedge fund Archegos, two Credit Suisse clients.

Ahead of the annual shareholders assembly next week, the Actares shareholders association took the bank to task for poor risk management.

"The example of the Greensill case shows that Credit Suisse apparently hasn't learned to manage complex risks for such an important client," it said in a statement.

Credit Suisse was heavily invested in Greensill, a firm specialised in short-term corporate loans via a complex and opaque business model, and was forced to suspend four funds after the firm declared insolvency last month.

"And in the case of Archegos as well, CS granted huge loans to a client without having a complete image of its finances," said the association.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday that Credit Suisse had racked up more than $20 billion in exposure to Archegos-related investments.

Credit Suisse has already booked a charge of 4.4 billion Swiss francs to cover damage related to Archegos, and said it expects additional losses of 600 million francs in the second quarter.

Actares called into question the strategy of Credit Suisse's management, which lies in wealth management, asset management and investment banking.

"The problem is that each of these three sectors of activity corresponds to a different risk profile" that require different risk management strategies.

The group also took aim at Credit Suisse's corporate culture.

"Actares believes only a fundamental change in Credit Suisse's business culture can restore the confidence of clients, investors and other stakeholders, including its thousands of employees," it said.

It called for installing a culture of transparency, aligning executive remuneration to creation of long-term value, as well as adhering to the top environmental, social and corporate governance norms in the industry.

The association recommended that shareholders vote against the reelection of Andreas Gottschling as the chairman of the board of directors' risk committee.

The US firm Glass Lewis, which advises investors, has also urged Credit Suisse shareholders to vote against Gottschling's reelection, saying a change would help restore investor confidence.

noo/rl/lth