Credit Suisse customers unruffled by stock slump

Credit Suisse customers unruffled by stock slump

Wall Street stocks were back in selloff mode on Wednesday with US banks following their European counterparts lower as investors fixated on Credit Suisse
Wall Street stocks were back in selloff mode on Wednesday with US banks following their European counterparts lower as investors fixated on Credit Suisse. Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP
Source: AFP

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Credit Suisse customers in Geneva were not spooked by the bank's plunge on the stock exchange Wednesday, believing the Swiss government would ride to the rescue before it could ever collapse.

Emerging from the bank's headquarters branch, in a prime location on the Rhone riverside in the central shopping and business district, customers were largely unruffled by the bank's share price tumbling more than 30 percent during the day to 1.55 Swiss francs.

"It will be covered by the government, under 100,000 Swiss francs" per customer, said a 40-year-old personal trainer, who declined to give his name.

"Someone will buy the bank anyway."

The bank's international activities, rather than its Swiss domestic banking branch, are the greater source of worry, he added.

Share prices nosedived after Ammar Al Khudairy, chairman of Credit Suisse's main shareholder Saudi National Bank, said it would "absolutely not" up its stake.

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Another customer stepping outside into the spring sunshine said he thought the bank would stay afloat because it is one of the 30 "global systemically important banks" deemed too big to fail.

"I'm not worried. These are systemically important banks. They can't go bankrupt," said a restaurant manager, who is a professional customer at Credit Suisse and also did not want to be named.

For customers, the 33-year-old added, "there are bigger problems to worry about."

'Snowball effect'

Inside the branch's atrium, there was no air of panic as customers formed queues at various desks.

Footage of Roger Federer played on repeat on bank's electronic screens. The Swiss tennis legend has long been a brand ambassador with Credit Suisse.

A sign ooutside a Credit Suisse bank branch in Geneva
A sign ooutside a Credit Suisse bank branch in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Source: AFP

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"It's a snowball effect," said a Geneva-based independent asset manager, who cycled up to the branch and seemed unsurprised that Credit Suisse was in trouble.

"I worked 15 years for them, but nearly 35 years ago," he said, declining to be named. "It was another era. Quite different. There were more people, more counters, a better dynamic."

Credit Suisse wanted to get rid of small customers, he said, including his wealth management portfolio which didn't have enough clients.

"That was fine by us as the service was lamentable," he said

Antolin Coll, 79, who worked for Credit Suisse for 22 years, said he was confident the bank would survive.

"I still have my money there and I always monitor it," the former manager said.

"I'm not afraid about that, because there have been previous cases and it always worked out."

He sold his Credit Suisse shares when they were very high, he said.

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"If you have your account in a savings account, leave it alone until things settle down," he said, warning those with stocks however to "watch out".

Credit Suisse shares recovered slightly in afternoon trading Wednesday to close down 24 percent at 1.70 Swiss francs each.

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Source: AFP

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