--Bank's shares fell to 20-year low this week
--Credit Suisse announcement nearly a month before earnings due
--Second surprise announcement in one week
By Anita Greil
ZURICH--Credit Suisse expects to be profitable in the second quarter, Switzerland's No. 2 bank said in a surprise statement Friday, nearly a month before it is scheduled to report detailed earnings.
The forecast of a profitable second quarter for the group and all its divisions is the second surprise announcement in a week by the bank, which saw its shares drop to a 20-year low this week after it was caught up recently in an unusual public spat with Switzerland's central bank over whether Credit Suisse's capital cushion is adequate.
A week ago, in another unusual move, the board of Credit Suisse issued a statement on Friday to back Chief Executive Brady Dougan, saying it is confident that management's plans to bolster capital will ensure the bank meets and exceeds regulatory requirements.
The spat with the central bank stems from the fact that some of Credit Suisse's capital is still held in the form of bonds that will turn into equity later. The bank more than meets current requirements, but under the stricter Basel III rules, which will come into force in 2019, this capital doesn't count. The central bank focused on that, saying that if the euro zone crisis turned markedly worse, such equity capital would be lacking.
To boost capital, Credit Suisse could bring forward the exchange of two bonds with a face value of 6 billion Swiss francs ($6.2 billion) into a form of equity. This exchange was planned for late 2013. The two big Middle East investors who bought the bonds in 2008 signaled that they may agree to an early exchange under certain conditions, Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger reported Friday, citing sources closed to the board.
Credit Suisse declined to comment on this plan.
At 0815 GMT, Credit Suisse shares were up CHF0.48, or 3% at CHF17.06. The shares have lost around a fifth of their value this year to trade around a 20-year low. And since their most recent peak in late 2009, they have lost more than 70% of their value.
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