Credit Suisse’s $54 bn lifeline gives global banks tentative relief

Swiss central bank said it would provide liquidity to the embattled lender against sufficient collateral; move helps briefly lift Europe’s banking index

Credit Suisse sought to shore up liquidity and restore investor confidence on Thursday by borrowing up to $54 billion from Switzerland’s central bank, after a stock slump fanned fears of a global banking crisis.

Credit Suisse briefly bounced from a 25% fall on Wednesday after its statement but then faded and last traded 20% higher.

Europe’s banking index initially rose, but was down 0.3% by 1306 GMT, after days of heavy losses on investor fears over potential bank stresses across the world, which have also prompted calls for action by firms in other sectors.

Credit Suisse is the first major bank to be thrown an emergency lifeline since the 2008 financial crisis and its troubles have raised serious doubts over whether central banks will be able to sustain aggressive interest rate hikes.

However, the European Central Bank (ECB) raised interest rates by 50 basis points on Thursday, underscoring the resilience of the euro area banking sector while assuring it had plenty of tools to offer liquidity support if needed.

Policymakers have stressed that the situation now is different to the global financial crisis as banks are better capitalised.

Allianz one of Europe’s biggest financial firms, said that authorities were “well equipped” to deal with any liquidity crisis, “unlike what happened during” the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Switzerland’s second-largest bank said it would exercise an option to borrow up to 50 billion Swiss francs ($54 billion) from the Swiss National Bank, which confirmed it would provide liquidity to Credit Suisse against collateral.

The move followed assurances from Swiss authorities on Wednesday that Credit Suisse met “the capital and liquidity requirements imposed on systemically important banks”.

Chief Executive Ulrich Koerner told Credit Suisse staff in a memo they should focus on facts as he pledged to rapidly move forward with a plan to streamline operations.

Analysts said that the measures will buy Credit Suisse time to carry out its planned restructuring, although there could well be further moves to pare back the Swiss lender.

‘Further restructuring’

“We would not exclude the possibility of further restructuring statements from management designed to further simplify the bank,” Thomas Hallett at KBW said in a note.

The 167-year-old bank’s problems have shifted the focus for investors and regulators from the U.S. to Europe, where Credit Suisse led a bank share sell-off after its largest investor said it could not provide more funds due to regulatory constraints.

The concerns about Credit Suisse added to broader fears sparked by last week’s collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the U.S.