Credit Suisse shares tank 10% on restructuring, capital concerns

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A Swiss flag flies over a sign of Credit Suisse in Bern, Switzerland

Shares of Credit Suisse plunged nearly 10% in Europe’s morning session, after the Financial Times reported the Swiss bank’s executives are in talks with its major investors to reassure them amid rising concerns over the Swiss lender’s financial health.

One executive involved in the talks told the Financial Times that teams at the bank were actively engaging with its top clients and counterparties over the weekend, adding that they were receiving “messages of support” from top investors.

In a statement to CNBC on Monday, the bank said it will provide updates on its strategy review when it releases its third-quarter results on Oct. 27.

“It would be premature to comment on any potential outcomes before then,” it said.

Spreads of the bank’s credit default swaps (CDS), which provide investors with protection against financial risks such as default, rose sharply Friday. They followed reports the Swiss lender is looking to raise capital, citing a memo from its Chief Executive Ulrich Koerner.

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The stock is down about 60% year-to-date.

“I trust that you are not confusing our day-to-day stock price performance with the strong capital base and liquidity position of the bank,” the CEO said in a separate staff memo obtained by CNBC.

FT said the executive denied reports that the Swiss lender had formally approached its investors about possibly raising more capital, and insisted Credit Suisse “was trying to avoid such a move with its share price at record lows and higher borrowing costs due to rating downgrades.”

The bank told Reuters that it’s in the process of a strategy review that includes potential divestitures and asset sales.

Credit Suisse has also been in talks with investors to raise capital with various scenarios in mind, Reuters said, citing people familiar with the matter as saying it includes a chance that the bank may “largely” exit the U.S. market.

The latest from Credit Suisse signals a “rocky period” ahead but it could lead to a change in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s direction, said John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday.

“The silver lining at end of this period is the fact that central banks will probably start to relent some time as both inflation is down and financial conditions worsen dramatically,” Vail said. “I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”

“We struggle to see something systemic,” analysts at Citi said a report about the possible “contagion impact” on U.S. banks by “a large European bank.” The analysts did not name Credit Suisse.

“We understand the nature of the concerns, but the current situation is night and day from 2007 as the balance sheets are fundamentally different in terms of capital and liquidity,” the report said, referring to the financial crisis that unraveled in 2007.

“We believe the U.S. bank stocks are very attractive here,” the report said.

Read the full Financial Times report here.

Sophie Tremblay

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