Credit Suisse shares drop on “risk of material misstatements,” Eurostoxx banks index down

Credit Suisse has its headquarters in Zurich. Photo taken 19 April 2021. Photo: Shutterstock

Credit Suisse has its headquarters in Zurich. Photo taken 19 April 2021. Photo: Shutterstock

Credit Suisse (Schweiz) on 14 March published its annual report, in which audit firm PwC noted that Credit Suisse did not design and maintain an effective risk assessment process. On 15 March, Credit Suisse’s stock had dropped more than 30%, reaching as low as CHF 1.56 per share (€1.60).

Following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in California on Friday 10 March 2023, interest has shifted to banks on the other side of the Atlantic. In a research article published on 15 March, Chris Turner, global head of markets and regional head of research for UK & CEE at ING Think, noted that the Eurostoxx Banks Index was “off 8%” and that “heavy losses in European banks have raised stress levels in money markets.”

As of the time of writing, Credit Suisse’s shares were trading around CHF 1.68 (€1.73)--a 25% one-day drop. As reported by media including the Financial Times, the fall in share price comes after Saudi National Bank chair Ammar Alkhudairy was asked on Bloomberg TV whether the SNB would be willing to providing capital to Credit Suisse if called for. His response was: “The answer is absolutely not, for many reasons outside the simplest reason which is regulatory and statutory.”

In a separate interview with Reuters, Alkhudairy said, “We are happy with the plan, the transformation plan that they have put forward. It is a very strong bank.” He added, “I don't think they will need extra money; if you look at their ratios, they're fine. And they operate under a strong regulatory regime in Switzerland and in other countries.”

As of December 9, 2022, the Saudi National Bank held 395.5m shares, or 9.88% of the voting rights, of the registered Group shares, according to the 2022 annual report of Credit Suisse (Schweiz), published on 14 March.

Lack of a process to identify, analyse risk of material misstatements 

This report stated: “Credit Suisse Group’s management has made an evaluation and assessment of the internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2022. Based upon its review and evaluation, the Group’s management has concluded that, as of December 31, 2022, the Group’s internal control over financial reporting was not effective as it did not design and maintain an effective risk assessment process to identify and analyze the risk of material misstatements in its financial statements.”

“As Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG relies on the Group’s internal control framework designed for the preparation of the financial statements, the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG concluded that this material weakness could result in misstatements of account balances or disclosures that would result in a material misstatement to the annual financial statements of Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG that potentially would not be prevented or detected.”

Moreover, the report also noted that “the statutory auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers AG (PwC) has noted that Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG did not design and maintain an effective risk assessment process to identify and analyze the risk of material misstatements in its financial statements within this system.”

“Credit Suisse Group’s Board of Directors and Executive Board are developing a remediation plan to address the material weakness referred to above, including strengthening the risk and control framework, and which will build on the significant attention that management has devoted to controls to date. The Board of Directors of Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG is closely monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the remediation,” stated the report.

Reuters reported that Swiss regulator Finma said, when contacted, that, “When weaknesses in the controls are identified, we expect timely remediation of the control weakness. We are in contact with the bank on this matter.”

The annual report of Credit Suisse (Schweiz) notes that its cash and liquid assets at the end of 2022 was CHF 17.308bn (€17.8bn), down from CHF 58.054bn (€59.7bn) at the end of 2021. Total assets dropped from CHF 253.370bn (€260.65bn) end of 2021 to CHF 215.407bn (€221.6bn) end of 2022.

Delano has reached out to Credit Suisse for any comment on their annual report or the statement made by Alkhudairy. A Credit Suisse spokesperson reiterated that PwC signed off the accounts for the year unchanged from those they published on 9 February.

As of the end of 2022, Credit Suisse (Schweiz) employed 7,280 employees, according to its annual report. Worldwide, Credit Suisse Group employs approximately 45,000 people, around 250 of which are in Luxembourg.

Updated at 16:45 with comment from a Credit Suisse spokesperson.