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SNB plan to take 40% Credit Suisse stake halted by regulator

Credit Suisse in Bern Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann
Saudi National Bank became an anchor investor in Credit Suisse’s $4.3 billion capital raise in October 2022

Saudi National Bank (SNB) wanted to increase its stake in Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, to 40 percent from 9.88 percent, Zürich-based Blick daily reported.

However, Swiss regulator Finma stopped the bank from making the move.

Finma must approve a foreign investor taking a stake of more than 10 percent in a major Swiss bank, the newspaper reported citing informed sources.

In March, the Saudi bank’s chairman Ammar Al Khudairy said during an interview with Bloomberg TV that investing any more would increase its current 10 percent stake in the Swiss lender, leading to regulatory issues.

“If we go above 10 percent, all new rules kick in, whether it be by our regulator or the Swiss regulator or the European regulator,” he said.

UBS agreed to buy Credit Suisse for three billion Swiss francs ($3.4 billion) on March 19 in a rescue plan driven by Swiss authorities.

In May, SNB’s nearly 10 percent shareholding in Credit Suisse was converted to 0.5 percent of UBS following the merger of the two Swiss lenders.

SNB, 37 percent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, became an anchor investor in Credit Suisse’s $4.3 billion capital raise, which began in October to fund the bank’s revamp and restructuring. 

The stake, initially worth 1.4 billion Swiss francs ($1.53 billion), has since lost more than 500 million francs, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, had increased its stake in Credit Suisse to just under 7 percent in January, becoming the Swiss bank’s second-largest shareholder behind SNB.

QIA bought 139.03 million shares in the Swiss lender, bringing its ownership to 6.87 percent.

Another Saudi Arabian conglomerate, Olayan Group, owned a stake of about 3 percent, Eikon data showed.