June 17, 2024
Credit Suisse chairman apologizes at final shareholder meeting in 167-year history

Credit Suisse chairman apologizes at final shareholder meeting in 167-year history

“We wanted to put all our energy and our efforts into turning the situation around and putting the bank back on track. It pains me that we didn’t have the time to do so, and that in that fateful week in March our plans were disrupted. For that I am truly sorry. I apologize that we were no longer able to stem the loss of trust that had accumulated over the years, and for disappointing you.

That’s Axel Lehmann, the chairman of Credit Suisse, addressing shareholders after the deal to be purchased at a cut-rate price by UBS, ending 167 years of independence. Shareholders at neither Credit Suisse CSGN, +1.00% nor UBS UBSG, +0.48% will get a chance to vote on the deal.

Credit Suisse shares were trading at 0.81 francs, just below the 0.84 franc per share offer the UBS bid is now worth. A year ago, Credit Suisse was worth more than 7 francs per share.

Lehmann, as noted in his speech, was not at the bank for its many scandals and trading debacles, most notably but hardly limited to the losses from the blowup of the Archegos family office and the freezing of funds tied to Greensill.

“The period from October to March was not long enough. One legacy issue after another had already seen trust eroded – and with it, patience dwindled. At that, we failed. It was too late. The bitter reality is that there wasn’t enough time for our strategy to bear fruit,” said Lehmann.

He said the deal “had to go through,” or the bank would have to restructure under Swiss banking law. “This would have led to the worst scenario, namely a total loss for shareholders, unpredictable risks for clients, severe consequences for the economy and the global financial markets,” he said.

CEO Ulrich Körner made a similar apology. “We ran out of time. This fills me with sorrow. What has happened over the past few weeks will continue to affect me personally and many others for a long time to come,” he said.

He specifically tied the collapse of SVB Financial and Signature Bank to its own demise.

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