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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Rupert Neate Wealth corresponent

Credit Suisse puts Zurich hotel up for sale in urgent liquidity dash

Savoy Hotel in Zurich
The Savoy hotel is due to reopen in 2024 as the Hotel Mandarin Oriental Savoy Zurich. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Credit Suisse, the investment bank whose shares plummeted to record lows this week over fears it could be on the brink of collapse, is selling the five-star Savoy hotel in the centre of Zurich for as much as 400m Swiss francs (£361m).

The bank, whose stock has fallen by more than 40% in the past six months, said on Thursday it had put the 184-year-old hotel on Paradeplatz in the heart of the city’s financial district on the market as part of a regular review of its global real estate assets.

“As part of this process, the bank has decided to start a sales process for the Hotel Savoy,” a spokesperson said. “We will carefully assess all offers and potential investors and communicate any decision in due course.”

The news was first reported by the financial news blog Inside Paradeplatz. It said the hotel, which is undergoing a major refurbishment and due to reopen in 2024 as Hotel Mandarin Oriental Savoy Zurich, was the bank’s last remaining “trophy asset” and described its sale as a “king-size distress signal”.

“The intended sale of the Savoy shows how serious the situation at the big bank is. Despite the conversion and restart as Mandarin in 2024, [Credit Suisse] apparently wants to part with the noble building in a top location as an emergency,” said the blog, which is written by Lukas Hässig and has broken a string of market-moving stories in Switzerland.

“The CS bosses feel compelled to throw everything that still has value on the market. You need liquidity to stay afloat – too many customers are running away.”

Credit Suisse has had to urgently raise capital, stop share buybacks and cut its dividend after a serious of crises and scandals. The bank plunged from a profit of Sfr2.7bn in 2020 to a loss of Sfr1.6bn last year, driven mostly by big losses on its investments in the failed supply chain finance group Greensill and the hedge fund Archegos – where US authorities have charged founder Bill Hwang and three others with racketeering and fraud offences after its collapse.

Credit Suisse has also paid large fines after admitting to fraud over bonds it issued that were supposed to be used to fund tuna fishing in Mozambique but where some of the proceeds were diverted by one of its contractors in the country to pay kickbacks, including to bankers at Credit Suisse.

And its private banking division – traditionally a cornerstone of Swiss banking – has been put under pressure after Suisse secrets, an investigation conducted by a consortium including the Guardian that exposed the hidden wealth of clients involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and other serious crimes.

Credit Suisse shares, which were worth more than Sfr9 in January, collapsed to a record low of Sfr3.5 on Monday, but have since recovered slightly to Sfr4.2.

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