Credit Suisse chairman says state aid ‘not a topic’

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(Bloomberg) — Axel Lehman, chairman of Credit Suisse Group AG, said government aid is “not a topic” for the lender as the Swiss bank tries to boost trust among customers, investors and regulators after a of missteps.

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Speaking at a financial sector conference in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, Lehman said it would be unfair to compare Credit Suisse’s current problems with the recent collapse of a Silicon bank, especially because the banks are regulated differently.

“We have strong capital ratios, a strong balance sheet,” Lehman said. “We’ve already taken the medicine,” he said, referring to a sweeping restructuring program announced in October.

Lehman’s comments echo those of Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Korner on Tuesday, who pledged to be patient with the lender as it executes a three-year plan to return the bank to profitability. The process is at risk of getting caught up in a wider financial sector selloff following the collapse of several regional US lenders, prompting authorities there to introduce a new backstop to protect deposits across the country.

Read more: Credit Suisse CEO urges patience given bank’s recent outflows

Credit Suisse fell 1.6% in Zurich trading at 9:41 a.m. ET. The stock has lost about 18% of its value during the past week amid widespread concerns about the banks’ vulnerability to rising interest rates.

The seizure of a Silicon bank on Friday, the biggest US bank failure since the financial crisis, was precipitated by an exodus of depositors and sent shock waves through the global financial system.

As a systemically important bank, Credit Suisse adheres to “materially different standards” in terms of capital strength, funding and liquidity, Konner said Tuesday. He said the lender had a CET1 capital ratio of 14.1% in the fourth quarter and a liquidity coverage ratio of 144% which has since increased to around 150% on average.

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Speculation about Credit Suisse’s financial health triggered a record outflow of client money in early October, which has since normalized to lower levels but has yet to reverse. Konner said Tuesday that the bank received “material good inflows” on Monday, a volatile day for financial sector companies as markets opened following the collapse of the Silicon bank.

To help win back customers, Credit Suisse is offering deposit rates that are significantly higher than those of rivals, Bloomberg reported last month. Konner has said that while the bank is offering competitive rates, it is not trying to buy the property.

Switzerland’s second-largest lender, which traces its roots to 1856, has been hit by a of explosions, scandals, leadership changes and legal issues over the years. The company’s losses of 7.3 billion francs last year wiped out the profits of the previous decade.

(Adds Tuesday’s comments from CEO Koerner to the fourth paragraph.)

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