The shrinking of Credit Suisse
After months of anticipation, Credit Suisse’s plan to revamp itself — with an eye toward making its long-troubled businesses smaller and less risky — is here. What has emerged from a strategic review is a drastic downsizing and a retreat from high finance.
A reminder of why Credit Suisse is retrenching: The firm has stumbled from crisis to crisis for more than a decade. It lost billions from the implosion of the investment firm Archegos and was caught up in the collapse of the lender Greensill, it’s on the hook for millions in legal settlements tied to an array of scandals, and it has suffered a revolving door in its top ranks.
Credit Suisse will break up its investment bank, as it recenters itself around its relatively stable, if less profitable, wealth-management operation. What that means:
As expected, the bank will move to spin out its capital markets and mergers advisory operations into a new firm that will resurrect the First Boston name after a 16-year absence.
Leading that new business, CS First Boston, will be Michael Klein, the former Citigroup deal-maker, onetime SPAC entrepreneur and soon-to-be-former Credit Suisse board member. Klein helped lead the bank’s strategic review.
Credit Suisse will also put some of its riskiest assets and nonessential businesses, including what’s left of its hedge fund lending unit and its operations in regions like Latin America, into a new “bad bank” that will eventually be sold or wound down.
And it has reached an agreement in principle to sell most of its securitized products group, a profitable but risky trading business that requires significant capital, to investors led by Apollo Global Management and PIMCO.
Credit Suisse will also raise $4 billion in capital by selling shares, including $1 billion worth to a state-owned Saudi bank. (Saudi National Bank will end up owning about 10 percent of Credit Suisse.)
The firm’s ugly third-quarter results reflected the urgency behind the revamp. It lost 342 million Swiss francs ($346 million), after a $1 billion profit a year ago. Add in taxes and restructuring-related costs, and the loss balloons to over 4 billion Swiss francs. “This is unacceptable,” Dixit Joshi, Credit Suisse’s C.F.O., told analysts.
Shares in Credit Suisse were down more than 14 percent this morning, and are off more than 50 percent in the past year. In a note to clients, the research analyst Kian Abouhossein of JPMorgan Chase wrote that the restructuring plan was “going in the right direction,” but added that the share sale would significantly dilute investors’ holdings.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Economists predict a U.S. rebound in the third quarter. The average forecast for G.D.P. is a 2.3 percent gain, on an annualized basis, reversing declines in the first half of the year. But economists also expect federal data to show a continued slowdown in consumer spending.
The European Central Bank is expected to raise interest rates. The consensus is for a 75-basis-point increase, as the E.C.B. tries to help ease soaring inflation. Investors will be looking for signals about another potential jumbo rate rise in December, and whether the central bank is contemplating quantitative tightening to shrink its 8.8 trillion euro balance sheet.
The S.E.C. will make companies take back executive pay for accounting errors. Commissioners voted 3-2 along party lines to finally implement a clawback rule in the 2011 Dodd-Frank banking regulations, after years of delays. It will force companies to recoup erroneously awarded pay going back as much as three years.
More on Kanye West
Kanye West, the rapper and fashion designer who now goes by Ye, has been at the center of several controversies.
- Recent Scandals: Ye has come under fire for making a series of antisemitic remarks and wearing a shirt with a slogan associated with white supremacists at Paris Fashion Week.
- The Fallout: As corporate partners, including Adidas, cut ties with the rapper following his antisemitic statements, many wonder if the music catalog that was his bedrock will withstand the backlash.
- Donda Academy Basketball: The star-studded high school team, one of Ye’s vanity projects, teetered on the brink of collapse after two prominent tournaments revoked invitations.
- Parler Deal: Parler, the social media service known for its right-wing audience, said that Ye would purchase its site, days after Instagram and Twitter restricted his accounts.
Tesla is said to face a criminal investigation over self-driving car claims. The Justice Department is looking into whether the electric vehicle maker misled investors and customers with its assertions about how autonomous its cars are, according to Reuters. But any potential criminal case may be complicated by Tesla’s warnings that a human still needs to be in the driver’s seat.
Augusta National Golf Club is reportedly part of a federal antitrust inquiry. The Justice Department is investigating the home of the Masters tournament as part of its look into whether the P.G.A. Tour is unfairly blocking competition, The Wall Street Journal reports. LIV, the Saudi-funded golf tour, has accused Augusta of pressuring players to stay loyal to the P.G.A.
Meta asks for ‘patience’ amid a broad sell-off
Shares in Facebook’s owner, Meta — already down 61 percent this year — plunged another nearly 20 percent in premarket trading after it reported that a downturn in ad spending and its continued hefty investment in the metaverse had halved its profit last quarter. It was the company’s second ever quarterly drop in revenues. Adding to the downward pressure was the company’s disappointing forecast for the current quarter.
Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O., asked investors for “patience” and said the firm had no plans to slow spending on its loss-making Reality Labs unit, which is central to its push into virtual and augmented reality.
Zuckerberg also promised “significant changes.” For some big investors, including Brad Gerstner at hedge fund Altimeter Capital, Zuckerberg is not moving fast enough to right the business. Here’s where Meta stands on a number of key metrics.
Head count: After the company hired just over 3,700 workers in the third quarter, Zuckerberg yesterday said he would freeze head count through the end of next year. Gerstner wants a cut of nearly 17,000 employees, or 20 percent of the staff.
Users: Zuckerberg told analysts that Meta’s core business, the social network Facebook, remained strong. User numbers are growing again, though up just 2 percent in September from a year ago. The company is selling more ads, but at lower rates: price per ad has dropped 18 percent from a year ago.
Metaverse: Losses at Reality Labs rose 31 percent from the previous quarter to $3.7 billion. And Zuckerberg said the company’s development costs would continue to climb. That puts Meta on track to spend as much as $15 billion this year on building the metaverse, after previously predicting $10 billion.
“It has a long way to go before it is where we want it to be,” Zuckerberg told analysts of Meta’s progress on virtual and augmented reality. “We are doing interesting work, but we are not there yet.”
More questions for Musk as deal day approaches
After he threw everything but the kitchen sink at getting out of his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, Musk arrived yesterday at Twitter headquarters with… a kitchen sink.
With the deal seemingly on track to close on Friday, Musk is expected to attend a variety of company meetings this week, and to address Twitter employees, The Times reports. At his last meeting, in June, he talked up the idea of turning Twitter into a “super app,” and got philosophical about how Twitter could contribute to “a better, long-lasting civilization.” But then he tried to back out of the deal, bashing the company in the process. So employees almost certainly have questions for their likely soon-to-be owner.
Here are a few questions DealBook would like to ask him:
Human resources: How many Twitter employees do you plan to lay off? 75 percent? Not nearly that many? There is significant concern among staffers about changes to their compensation package — are you planning to cut costs there?
Advertising sales: Digital advertising is down across the industry, but it’s still the core revenue stream for the company. Even if you shift to more subscriptions, you’re still going to need a sales force in the near term to keep revenues from collapsing. What’s your plan?
The board: Whom will you appoint to the Twitter board of directors? Will you be the full-time C.E.O.?
Real estate: We know you’re no fan of the California tax code. Would you consider moving the headquarters out of San Francisco? Will you allow remote work?
Finance department: Are you worried about whether you can grow Twitter while also paying down $1 billion in annual interest payments?
Corporate planning: How will you judge Twitter’s success in Year One?
“I massively benefited from Powell and Bernanke and Janet Yellen.”
— Chamath Palihapitiya, the billionaire investor once known as the “SPAC king.” At a conference hosted by Axios, Palihapitiya said that the Fed’s policy of super-low interest rates led to a speculative bubble in risky assets, including in the lightly scrutinized startups that he helped take public via SPACs.
Does Ye have a future in music?
The business prospects of Kanye West, now known as Ye, remain murkier than ever after corporate partners, including Adidas and Gap, cut ties with the rapper and fashion designer after his antisemitic remarks and erratic behavior. But will he be forced to face the music?
The music business is treading more carefully. Ye’s vast catalog is still available for streaming, and has generated four billion plays so far this year, despite some fading after previous controversies.
Universal and Sony Music, which own rights to his previous works, denounced Ye’s antisemitic remarks — but, for now, aren’t moving to take down his hits. (He’s currently without a contract, which he has publicly demanded for some time.) Spotify’s C.E.O., Daniel Ek, told Reuters on Tuesday that the rapper hasn’t violated his company’s policies yet.
Ye was escorted from the offices of Skechers yesterday, after he showed up at the footwear maker’s headquarters unannounced and engaged in what the company said was “unauthorized filming.” It’s not clear whether he was hoping to find a new sneakers partner, though Skechers made clear it won’t work with him. “We condemn his recent divisive remarks and do not tolerate antisemitism or any other form of hate speech,” the company said in a statement.
That said, the market for Yeezy sneakers is heating up: Prices have risen 10 percent, according to Bloomberg.
THE SPEED READ
Shares in Mobileye, Intel’s autonomous driving technology business, jumped over 37 percent in its market debut. (CNBC)
ESPN sold a majority stake in the X Games, the extreme-sports tournament, to the private equity firm MSP Sports Capital. (WSJ)
Endeavor sold the parent company of the Miss Universe beauty pageant to JKN, a company run by the Thai businesswoman Anne Jakrajutatip, for $20 million. (WSJ)
A second railroad workers’ union has voted down a White House-brokered labor deal meant to avert a rail strike in the coming weeks. (NPR)
Italian financial police have accused Pfizer of hiding $1.2 billion worth of profits by transferring the funds out of the country. (Bloomberg)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain reimposed a ban on fracking, reversing another policy of his predecessor, Liz Truss. (FT)
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