Swiss Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter was determined to present the deal for UBS to buy Credit Suisse as not a bailout operation but the best possible solution to a difficult situation.
Keller-Sutter, who said she had a bank account with Credit Suisse, said the worst had been prevented.
“This is not a rescue operation. This is a commercial solution because UBS is acquiring Credit Suisse,” she said at a press conference in Bern.
“The bankruptcy of Credit Suisse would have caused enormous collateral damage-in the Swiss financial market, also internationally,” she said.
She said she had been in contact with “colleagues from the UK and the US” who were “very grateful for this solution because they really feared a bankruptcy of Credit Suisse with all the losses involved”.
Thomas Jordan, chairman of the Swiss National Bank, said it was vital that a solution was found quickly. The central bank helped by providing 100 billion Swiss francs ($108 billion) in liquidity support.
“Credit Suisse, due to its size and global network, is classified as a global systemically important bank,” he told reporters. “The solution we have now ensures that the system-relevant function remains secure.”
UBS chairman Colm Kelleher, who will lead the combined entity as chairman, described the deal as a great opportunity, although there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We will make many of those troublesome activities that we inherit from Credit Suisse less risky,” he told reporters.
He said it was far too early to talk about cutting jobs at Credit Suisse, but he was very positive about Credit Suisse’s Swiss operations.
“It’s a nice asset that we’re very keen to keep,” Kelleher said.
His upbeat tone contrasted with Credit Suisse Chairman Axel Lehmann, who was emotional when he spoke of the demise of 167-year-old Credit Suisse as an independent bank.
“Today is a historic, sad and very challenging day,” he said.
The bank was trapped by old burdens that had materialized, he said.
“It’s an accumulation of things that have accumulated over many, many years, and in total the barrel has jumped,” Lehmann said.