Credit Suisse Gave Archegos Big Leverage for Collateral

Credit Suisse Group AG’s business with Archegos Capital Management enabled the family office to undertake highly-leveraged stock bets with only minimal collateral posted, a strategy that exposed the lender to losses far exceeding its peers when the firm collapsed.

Credit Suisse lent the family office of Bill Hwang funds allowing bets with leverage of up to ten times, and only asked for collateral worth 10% of the sums borrowed, according to a person familiar with the business.

The leverage offered by the Swiss bank was in some cases double what other brokers gave Hwang, helping to push the loss to some $5.5 billion after the fund imploded in March. That compares with a $2.9 billion hit to Nomura Holdings Inc and lesser sums or no loss at all for lenders including Deutsche Bank AG that offered Hwang prime brokerage services.

Credit Suisse declined to comment. The figures were first reported by Risk.net.

In response, Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein has said the bank is reviewing its prime brokerage unit and will focus its business on clients who have relationships with other parts of the firm. Hwang was not a client of the private bank and business with Archegos only led to $17.5 million in revenues last year, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter.

Credit Suisse has begun to trim back the number of clients it serves as prime broker and plans to cut lending to hedge funds in that unit by some $35 billion, or a third of its outstanding loans to prime clients.

Gottstein pledged to restore calm at the bank on Friday after the Archegos hit further damaged its reputation.

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