BERN - Switzerland was urged to prepare properly for the failure of a big bank on Friday by a group of experts in the wake of the collapse of Credit Suisse but their report to government skirted radical reform some say is needed.
UBS Group emerged as Switzerland’s single largest bank earlier this year after the government hastily arranged and partly bankrolled its takeover of stricken Credit Suisse to prevent that bank's collapse.
The failure of one of the world's biggest banks and a one-time symbol of Swiss financial strength blindsided the country's officials and regulators, who had long grappled with the lender as it lurched from one scandal to the next.
On Friday, a group of Swiss experts, including bankers and academics, urged the government to improve its readiness should UBS, which is now far larger, run into trouble.
They called for the country's regulator FINMA to be given more clout with the power to impose fines. They also said FINMA should be given more authority to intervene and that there should be improved coordination amongst Swiss authorities. The experts also suggested that it should be made easier for banks to tap central bank funding, by loosening the rules on what security can be offered in return.
The Credit Suisse takeover – the first rescue of a global bank since the financial crisis of 2008 – grants enormous clout to UBS, ridding it of its main rival.
It will change the landscape of banking in Switzerland, where branches of Credit Suisse and UBS are dotted everywhere, sometimes just metres apart.
The banks, two of the most systemically relevant in global finance, hold combined assets of up to 140% of Swiss gross domestic product in a country heavily dependent on finance for its economy.
During the global financial crash of 2008, it was UBS, not Credit Suisse, that needed a state rescue.
At that time, the Swiss central bank lent more than $54 billion to a vehicle that UBS used to offload problem debt, including subprime loans.
(Writing By John O'Donnell; Editing by Susan Fenton and David Evans)