Credit Suisse expects to book a $450m impairment charge

Impairment is being made on its stake in York Capital Management as the US firm winds down most of its hedge-fund strategies,

Switzerland’s national flags fly beside the logo of local bank Credit Suisse in Zurich. Photograph: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Switzerland’s national flags fly beside the logo of local bank Credit Suisse in Zurich. Photograph: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

 

Credit Suisse Group AG expects to book a $450 million (€380 million) impairment on its stake in York Capital Management as the US firm winds down most of its hedge-fund strategies, the latest blow for the bank after a series of setbacks this year.

The charge, which could still change, will be booked in the fourth quarter in the asset management business, the Zurich-based bank said Tuesday. Credit Suisse agreed to take a 30 per cent stake in York in 2010, offering to pay at least $425 million at the time to give clients access to alternative investments.

The latest blow caps a tough year for Chief Executive Thomas Gottstein, who has had to contend with fund closures at the bank’s asset management unit, losses on loans to wealthy clients and lackluster trading results. Gottstein, who took over in February, has started a strategic review of the asset management operations as he simplifies the bank’s organization.

The unit has been through a rough year as hedge funds struggled to perform in the pandemic. Credit Suisse has been closing down funds and laying off employees at its alternatives business, with actions including shuttering a quantitative strategy and taking a $26 million charge on seed capital in a U.S. real estate vehicle in the third quarter, Chief Financial David Mathers said in a recent interview. Aventicum Capital Management, a joint venture with the Qatar Investment Authority, is closing two groups of funds and returning capital to investors, Credit Suisse said last month.

Gottstein said in September that the bank is planning a strategic review of asset management over the next 12 months. For now, he has ruled out a sale or merger. The bank last month indicated it expects more restructuring costs and potential mark-downs as it continues to review the portfolio of alternative investments.

Shares of Credit Suisse rose 1.5 per cent in early trading in Zurich as European stocks rallied. They have lost about 12 per cent this year, compared with a small gain for rival UBS Group AG.

The Swiss bank’s asset management operation is split between a traditional business with long equity and fixed-income strategies sold largely to its private banking clients, and alternative strategies in the US consisting of wholly owned hedge funds, a large credit business and a number of smaller funds and external investments.

York, started in 1991 by Jamie Dinan, is winding down most of its hedge fund business and retooling to focus on long-term products after “a year marked by tremendous upheaval and disruption,” according to a letter to clients. Co-Chief Investment Officer Christophe Aurand will be leaving and William Vrattos will take over as sole CIO, Chief Executive Dinan wrote in the letter seen by Bloomberg News. Dinan has seen his firm’s assets tumble from their $26 billion peak in 2015. - Bloomberg