Credit Suisse postpones the publication of the annual report. Other corporations have had to pull back.
Pretty embarrassing – that’s how you could sum up the latest episode about Credit Suisse. Yesterday, she surprisingly announced that she would postpone the publication of the 2022 annual report.
Finma: No proceedings against CS
The Swiss financial regulator Finma will not open any regulatory proceedings over statements made by CS Chairman Axel Lehmann. This was announced by the big bank in the evening.
Lehmann had stated in interviews at the beginning of December 2022 that the outflows in the billions recorded in October had “flattened out” or had “essentially stopped” by the beginning of December.
After examining these statements, Finma sees no reason to open supervisory proceedings, CS and Finma wrote in their respective communications. The examination by Finma was thus completed.
The reason: an intervention by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which affects the technical assessments of the cash flow statements in the 2019 and 2020 financial years. This reads cryptically, and it is still unclear what exactly is behind it.
No comparable situation
The fact is that the stock exchange supervisory authority’s “late call” was reason enough for Credit Suisse not to publish the current annual report. A means to which large corporations in particular only resort in extreme emergencies and which is a rarity.
Although it happens again and again that annual reports are postponed at short notice, Credit Suisse is systemically important.
In Switzerland, there has never been a comparable situation at a larger bank, says Peter V. Kunz, Professor of Business Law at the University of Bern: “Although it happens again and again that annual reports are postponed at short notice, Credit Suisse is systemically important , is therefore of central importance for the financial center.” This is extraordinary, says Kunz.
Nevertheless, a few prominent examples can be found in the recent past.
Clariant: manipulated key figures
The Swiss specialty chemicals group Clariant made the headlines last spring. Because of a possible manipulation of important balance sheet figures, he postponed his annual financial statements. The assumption: employees had posted provisions and accruals incorrectly in order to polish up margins and achieve financial goals. An investigation revealed that provisions and accruals were incorrectly valued. The chief financial officer then had to leave.
Peloton: Imbalance after Covid
At the American fitness group Peloton Interactive, a restructuring in 2022 was the reason for a late annual report. The comprehensive realignment led to delays in the annual financial statements. After the business with fitness equipment had boomed during the Corona period, the stock market collapsed and hundreds of employees were laid off after the pandemic.
Evergrande: pledged bank deposits
Also last year, the Chinese real estate giant Evergrande postponed its annual report. The company had amassed debts of more than $300 billion. When preparing the financial statements, a subsidiary discovered that several billion in bank balances had been pledged as collateral. The banks concerned blocked the money. Evergrande shares were subsequently suspended from trading.
Huge reputational risk
Shifts are not uncommon, especially for smaller companies. Last summer, for example, applications for deadline extensions increased on the Swiss stock exchange, according to its regulator SER. For every company and especially for the big players, the following applies: the annual report serves as the central basis for decision-making by investors.
If the information is not published in a timely manner, this will trigger a great deal of distrust among investors, and the reputational risk is immense. So Credit Suisse would do well to quickly resolve the problem with the US stock exchange regulator.