UBS Group has agreed to buy its ailing competitor Credit Suisse for $3.25 billion on March 19 as part of an “emergency ordinance” to prevent financial market instability.
An earlier report from the Financial Times claimed UBS had agreed to buy Credit Suisse for over $2 billion, citing a person familiar with the matter. However, a most recent statement from UBS has revealed that the total consideration for the deal is approximately 3 billion Swiss francs, or $3.25 billion. That’s still a deep discount to Credit Suisse’s March 17 market capitalization of 7.5 billion francs, or $8 billion.
“This acquisition is attractive for UBS shareholders but, let us be clear, as far as Credit Suisse is concerned, this is an emergency rescue. We have structured a transaction which will preserve the value left in the business while limiting our downside exposure,” said UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher.
To close the deal, Swiss authorities agreed to change the country's regulations to bypass a shareholder vote and announce the deal over the weekend, ahead of the market opening.
Also, as part of the deal, the Swiss National Bank has committed to providing over $100 billion in liquidity to UBS, according to reports.
The discussions were initiated jointly by the Swiss Federal Department of Finance, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and the Swiss National Bank, and the acquisition has their full support, UBS said in its statement.
Swiss authorities considered alternatives to Credit Suisse in case the deal with UBS failed over the weekend, including a full or partial nationalization of the bank as an emergency option.
Credit Suisse’s rescue plan would also include losses to bondholders, prompting concerns by European regulators that it would undermine investor confidence in Europe’s financial sector.
UBS and Credit Suisse have been locked in talks with regulators since March 15, after Credit Suisse’s largest shareholder, Saudi National Bank, said that it wouldn’t increase its investment in the Swiss bank due to regulations. Concerns about the bank’s ability to profit were heightened by the comments, raising fears about possible shareholder financing.
Credit Suisse was founded in 1856 to finance the expansion of Swiss railroads. It was considered the second-largest bank in the country.
Update March 20, 2:14 am UTC: Added information from the official UBS statement on the proposed acquisition.