Credit Suisse in firing line after Archegos losses

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ZURICH/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Pressure was mounting on Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) on Tuesday over losses linked to the downfall of Archegos Capital, with analysts warning its dividend and share buyback plans may need to go on hold and investors advised to vote against management pay.

Losses at Archegos, a family office run by former Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang, sparked a sell-off in bank stocks on Monday as investors feared they would be forced to take big write-downs after extending billions of dollars in leverage to the fund.

Global lenders may lose more than $6 billion on Archegos, sources familiar with trades involving the U.S. investment firm have said.

Credit Suisse and Japan’s Nomura are set to bear the brunt of this, according to statements from the banks and sources, with one source close to the Swiss lender saying its losses could be as high as $4 billion. The bank has declined to comment on the size of losses.

The brokerage arm of Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ (NYSE:MUFG) Financial Group on Tuesday flagged potential losses of around $300 million related to a U.S. client at its European subsidiary, declining to comment on whether that client was Archegos.

The prospect of big losses at Credit Suisse is piling pressure on the lender’s management, already reeling from the fallout surrounding collapsed supply chain finance company Greensill.

Earlier this month Credit Suisse shut $10 billion of supply chain finance funds that held bonds issued by Greensill, and is overhauling its asset management business to deal with the scandal.

On Tuesday Ethos, which advises shareholders on corporate governance, said Credit Suisse investors should vote against board and executive pay at its upcoming annual meeting.

“These new cases add up to an incredible number of governance failures,” Ethos Foundation Chief Executive Vincent Kaufmann said.

“THE HITS JUST KEEP COMING”

Several analysts also flagged on Tuesday that Credit Suisse’s share buyback programme and dividend may be at risk as a result of the scandal.

“The hits just keep coming for Credit Suisse,” wrote Eoin Mullany at Berenberg.

“We believe Credit Suisse will need to suspend its share buyback while in the longer term we believe it will lead to it reassessing the way it takes and manages risk.”

Credit Suisse did not respond to requests for comment on its buyback plan or dividend policy.

The bank had planned to buy back at least 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.06 billion) worth of stock this year.

Its regulator has already told it to hold more capital due to the Greensill fallout, which the bank said at the time would not affect its buyback plans.

Credit Suisse shares were up 0.7% on Tuesday after falling 14% on Monday, lagging other banking stocks such as Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn), which was up 1.7%.

Other major banks have so far not said they expect a major impact from the downfall of Archegos, with Deutsche Bank saying on Monday it had not incurred losses after “de-risking” its Archegos exposure.

Goldman and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) were quick to offload shares on Friday, averting a material financial impact, sources familiar with their trades have said.

Archegos’s problems started last week when a disappointing stock sale by media giant ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) triggered devastating bank margin calls for the fund, three sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Shares in ViacomCBS fell 23% last Wednesday after the media company sold shares at a price which diluted its value.

Regulators in the United States, UK, Switzerland and Japan have all said they are closely monitoring developments.

($1 = 0.9419 Swiss francs)