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02 December 2023

Qatar move adds up to Swiss role

By Frank Kane

We might just be about to witness a riposte to the criticisms – widely aired at Davos – that Gulf investors are just “vultures” preying on those poor, vulnerable American banks that find themselves in sub-prime depression.


The word from London is that investors linked to the Qatar authorities are considering taking a big position in Credit Suisse (CS), the Swiss financial giant with special expertise in discreet personal banking.


The Qataris might spend as much as $3 billion (Dh11bn) to acquire a five per cent stake in CS in an exercise that looks very different from the “firesale” acquisitions of shares by other Arab investors in Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.


True, CS has already declared a $1.9bn write-off as a result of exposure to sub-prime assets, but the experts think that is the extent of serious damage. There is not much more bad news to come from CS on this subject. The bank has healthy capital ratios, and any deal involving Qatar would not be dilutive of the existing shareholder structure.


For CS, there is the added attraction that their great rival UBS recently had to seek funds from overseas in a desperate reaction to sub-prime damage.