Switzerland

An influential global watchdog has warned that the vast market for leveraged loans has become increasingly vulnerable to shocks, in a move that could heighten regulatory scrutiny of the risks surrounding corporate debt, the Financial  Times reported. The Basel-based Financial Stability Board said in a report on Thursday that the recent rapid growth in leveraged loans — credit for lowly rated, more indebted companies — has been accompanied by a weakening of protections for lenders that has not been fully priced into markets.

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A Switzerland-based subsidiary of HSBC Holdings PLC on Tuesday admitted helping Americans evade taxes over a decade and agreed to pay $192 million to settle criminal charges, the Wall Street Journal reported. The penalty includes $60 million that represents the value of unpaid taxes resulting from HSBC Private Bank’s role in the conspiracy, U.S. authorities said. The total fine also includes $71.8 million in revenue that must be forfeited, stemming from fees earned from handling the undeclared accounts, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
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Schmolz + Bickenbach AG’s shareholders voted in favor of a capital increase to keep the company afloat after the two largest investors ended weeks of feuding over the proposal, Bloomberg News reported. Almost 80% of shareholders attending an extraordinary meeting near the Swiss city of Lucerne approved the share sale plan of at least 325 million Swiss francs ($326 million), removing a key hurdle towards rescuing the company from insolvency.

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An investment holding company linked to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg pledged to invest “as much money as necessary” in Schmolz + Bickenbach AG to avert a restructuring of the ailing Swiss steelmaker’s $800 million debt pile, Bloomberg News reported. Liwet Holding AG, which holds a 26.9% stake in Schmolz, said in a statement Sunday that the pledge is conditional on there being no change in control of the company.

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Europe’s private banks and asset managers are facing a crisis as business models are hollowed out by negative interest rates, the chief executive of Edmond de Rothschild has warned, the Financial Times reported. Vincent Taupin, who has run the Swiss bank since March, also cautioned that neither acquisitions or attracting more money from customers offers an easy answer for the industry.

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Swiss bank UBS has announced a $100m overhaul of its investment bank after profits at the division more than halved in the third quarter, contributing to an overall earnings drop despite a resilient performance in wealth management, the Financial Times reported. Pre-tax profit at the investment bank fell to $203m from $489m in the same period last year — well below analysts’ expectations for $290m.

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A fleet of supercars said to have been seized by the Swiss authorities in a money-laundering investigation from the son of the leader of Equatorial Guinea was auctioned on Sunday in Switzerland, the International New York Times reported. The vehicles were among 25 luxury cars sold for more than $27 million at Bonhams auction house, according to The Associated Press, in what Bonhams called a “very special sale.” Beforehand, the cars had been estimated to bring in more than 12 million euros, or $13 million.

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Lending standards in the rapidly growing loan market are deteriorating and complex financial products that mask risks to banks have parallels with the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, the Bank for International Settlements warned on Sunday, Reuters reported. The number of collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), a form of securitization which pools bank loans to companies, has ballooned in recent years as investors hunt for higher returns by buying into loans to lower-rated and riskier companies. Like the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that bundled U.S.

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UBS Group AG could face a lawsuit from bond investors over its role arranging a 2017 sale of Swiss franc-denominated debt for retailer Folli Follie Group that has since defaulted, Bloomberg News reported. Alcimos, a services company, has hired law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to pursue a potential compensation case in Swiss courts on behalf of investors. Folli Follie has been struggling to survive since a short seller questioned the accuracy of its financial statements last year, triggering a bond and share price collapse.

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Switzerland’s UBS plans another shake-up of its investment banking arm to help boost earnings and curb costs after tough market conditions precipitated a performance dip, Reuters reported. The world’s largest investment banks have had their worst start to a year since 2006, the latest data published by industry analyst Coalition on Thursday shows. “What’s been communicated today was a reorganisation, which did not include a specific number of job cuts,” a person familiar with the matter said, adding that the restructuring would be carried out by the end of the year.

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