As part of the effort to stop the financial panic that has gripped the world over the past week, Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, decided on Sunday to purchase its struggling rival Credit Suisse for roughly $3.2 billion.
The agreement, which the Swiss government secured over a few days, heralds the shocking end of the 166-year-old institution that was once a source of Swiss pride.
It may be the biggest restructuring of the global banking sector since the 2008 financial crisis when rivals acquired defunct financial powerhouses to stop calamitous collapses.
“This is a historic day in Switzerland, but frankly, a day we hoped would not come,” New York Times quoted Colm Kelleher, UBS’s chairman, told have said on Sunday.
According to Swiss government officials and regulators, the agreement is the most effective approach to reassure investors about the stability of the nation’s financial industry and the likelihood that its problems would not spread outside.
At a news conference, Karin Keller-Sutter, a member of the Swiss Federal Council, explained that UBS’ takeover of Credit Suisse “has laid the foundation for greater stability both in Switzerland and internationally.”
“We welcome the announcements by the Swiss authorities today to support financial stability,” a joint statement from Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, and Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, read.
Under the agreement, UBS will exchange 0.76 of one of its shares for each share of Credit Suisse, valuing the latter at around $3.2 billion (or 3 billion Swiss francs), a minor portion of its Friday market value.
Credit Suisse, founded in 1856 to finance Switzerland’s rail system, rose to the highest echelons of the financial world, occasionally competing head-to-head with U.S. giants like JPMorgan Bank.
The Zurich-based bank, however, has also been plagued by decades’ worth of scandals, management changes, and reform initiatives that have tarnished its reputation, drawn legal attention, and left it bleeding from losses.
The current decline in banking equities, sparked by Silicon Valley Bank’s demise last month, highlighted how terrified investors are by bringing its long-standing weaknesses into stark perspective and hastening its demise.