Mar 21, 2023
Credit Suisse Employees Await Word on Contingent Capital Awards
(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG’s bankers had deferred bonuses frozen by the Swiss government, adding pain to awards that were already decimated by the firm’s share plunge.
The Swiss government is “temporarily suspending” deferred remuneration granted in the years up to 2022, according to a statement Tuesday. The bank can pay cash bonuses for last year as planned after the firm’s executive board gave up such awards on Monday, the statement said.
Read More: Swiss Suspend Some Credit Suisse Bonuses After UBS Takeover
Any shares earned in long-term awards are already worth a fraction of what current and former staffers might have hoped even a week ago. Credit Suisse stock will be converted into UBS shares at a ratio of 22.48 for one, once the deal is finalized.
The share fall wiped more than $600 million from the value of deferred stock held by the firm’s bankers, according to calculations by Bloomberg. Another 210 million francs of special share awards that were handed out just last month only paid out if the share price reached 3.82 francs on Dec. 31, 2025, which would be impossible now.
Credit Suisse staffers will be waiting to see how long the suspension lasts and the permanent status of the lender’s contingent capital awards. These were meant to mirror risky bonds that were wiped out in the takeover but had yet to be written down to zero before the Swiss statement landed, a person familiar with the matter said earlier Tuesday.
The move by the Swiss government adds to uncertainty for bankers already contemplating whether they have a future as part of Credit Suisse’s biggest rival. At the investment bank, UBS wants to cherry pick top Credit Suisse dealmakers instead of supporting Michael Klein’s plan to build out a First Boston spinout, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
The CCA awards were worth about 360 million francs ($388 million) at the end of 2022. One of the conditions of the awards is that the instruments have no value in the event of a collapse of the bank. But the nature of the rescue — couched as a private takeover — left some wondering if it was feasible the weekend’s events may not trigger this.
Spokespeople for Credit Suisse and Finma declined to comment.
Thousands of managing directors and director-level staff at Credit Suisse have received at least part of their bonus in contingent capital units in recent years. These assets mimic many of the features of the bank’s 16 billion-franc stack of additional tier 1 securities, which were designed to give the bank more capital in times of crisis. The Swiss regulator Finma wrote off the AT1s on Sunday to help cover the cost of the emergency tie-up with UBS.
In 2021, just over 5,000 Credit Suisse employees received contingent capital awards, of which 1,229 were classified as material risk takers, performing jobs considered most vital to the bank’s health.
The lender stated in its annual report that the contingent capital awards carry “risks similar” to other contingent capital securities it issues.
Credit Suisse granted the latest tranche of contingent awards to staff on Feb. 11. This marks the last award of these instruments, which were already set to be discontinued.
Contingent awards generally vest over three years, though in some countries it is longer depending on local rules, and are denominated in either dollars or Swiss francs. Holders are eligible to receive semi-annual interest payments, and upon maturity receive either cash or a contingent capital instrument.
The Swiss statement may snuff out already slim hopes that this slug of compensation might be unaffected, adding to a bleak outlook for the lender’s bankers already facing the threat of sweeping job cuts.
(Adds details on UBS investment bank plans in sixth paragraph)
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