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Report: Activist hedge fund to seek 3-way split of Credit Suisse

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Report: Activist hedge fund to seek 3-way split of Credit Suisse

Swiss hedge fund RBR Capital Advisors is poised to launch an activist campaign to break up Credit Suisse Group AG amid investors' impatience with progress in the bank's turnaround plan under CEO Tidjane Thiam, the Financial Times reported.

The activist hedge fund will reportedly propose to split the bank into a Wall Street investment bank that brings back to life the defunct First Boston brand; a wealth management group incorporating the lender's retail and business banking activities; and an asset manager. Based on the fund's estimates, the three-way breakup could double the group's current valuation of CHF40 billion, the FT said, citing a copy of the plan.

The fund will attack "dis-synergies" in Credit Suisse's conglomerate structure and will seek to slim down, spin off and float "First Boston 2.0," which would be partly owned by staff through a partnership structure, the report added.

A spokesman said RBR had engaged with management and would publicly present its views "shortly," Reuters reported.

RBR has amassed a stake of just 0.2% to 0.3% of Credit Suisse's share capital, but has signed nondisclosure agreements with 100 other investors, including existing shareholders in the lender, the FT noted. Gaël de Boissard, a former co-head of Credit Suisse's investment bank and a one-time contender for the CEO role that eventually went to Thiam, supports the plan, the report added, noting that De Boissard retains a significant personal stake in Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse Chairman Urs Rohner and other senior representatives of the lender have reportedly engaged with the hedge fund.

Credit Suisse told the FT that it welcomes shareholder views and that its focus is on the implementation of its three-year business plan, which it said is "well on track."

RBR may use the JPMorgan Robin Hood investor conference, which takes place Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 in New York, to unveil the plan, according to the report. The activist hedge fund previously targeted GAM Holding AG, although the Swiss asset manager's shareholders in April did not elect the candidates it proposed for the company's board.