UBS says it has completed the takeover of stricken rival Credit Suisse


UBS expects to complete its takeover of Credit Suisse “as early as June 12”, which will create a giant Swiss bank with a balance sheet of $1.6 trillion.

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Swiss bank UBS on Monday said that it formally completed the takeover of its rival Credit Suisse.

In an open letter, UBS board chair Colm Kelleher and newly-returned CEO Sergio Ermotti said, “We will bring together the collective expertise, scale and wealth management leadership of both UBS and Credit Suisse to create an even stronger combined firm.”

The letter continues that there will be “challenges” as well as “great opportunity,” as the bank commits to “never compromise on UBS’s strong culture, conservative risk approach or quality service.”

UBS agreed to the $3.2 billion deal over a frantic weekend in March, with Swiss regulators playing a key role in the acquisition amid worries that severe losses at Credit Suisse would destabilize the banking system.

The enlarged UBS will have a balance sheet of $1.6 trillion and a workforce of 120,000.

Regulators said Friday that they would cover losses of up to 9 billion Swiss francs ($10 billion) after UBS incurs the first 5 billion Swiss francs as part of the transaction, as it absorbs a portfolio that does not entirely “fit its business and risk profile.”

Following the acquisition, Credit Suisse and its American Depositary Shares will be delisted from the SIX Swiss Exchange and New York Stock Exchange, with shareholders receiving one UBS share for every 22.48 Credit Suisse shares held.

The takeover, which follows multiple scandals and years of share price decline at Credit Suisse, controversially wiped out the 16 billion Swiss francs ($17 billion) worth of assets of the bank’s AT1 bond holders.

Challenging environment

Beat Wittmann, co-founder and partner at Porta Advisors, said the speed with which UBS had managed the takeover was positive for the bank.

Going forward will be “certainly a challenge … but UBS, due to the emergency operation and the collective failure of policymakers and of course of credit Suisse, got over a weekend an extraordinarily advantageous deal,” Wittmann told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe”.

“There’s so much margin of safety in terms of price, in terms of credit lines, in terms of risk sharing with the government, that this is a great deal indeed.”

Wittmann said that UBS faces several key challenges, the first of which is the physical integration of the two banking juggernauts and merging of their operating models.

Citing a Financial Times report published over the weekend — which CNBC has not confirmed — that UBS will impose restrictions on Credit Suisse bankers including bans on new clients from high-risk countries and on launching new products without the approval of UBS managers, Wittmann said “that’s exactly what a bank should do in any case.”

As for further challenges, Wittman drew attention to an upcoming parliamentary inquiry into the Credit Suisse takeover and wider banking stability. Swiss elections could also lead to “populist demands,” he stressed, as jobs are cut and branches close around Switzerland. A final trial is the broader macro environment, Wittman said, given the current credit crunch and likely financial market volatility resulting from higher interest rates.

UBS CEO Ermotti warned earlier this month that the new group “won’t be able to create, short term, job opportunities for everybody. Synergies is part of the story.”

The bank has not confirmed what it will do with assets including Credit Suisse’s prized retail bank.

This article was originally published on CNBC