Case | HBS Case Collection | August 2011 (Revised October 2014)

High Wire Act: Credit Suisse and Contingent Capital (A)

by Clayton S. Rose and Aldo Sesia

Abstract

Late in 2010, Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan and his team closed in on the decision of whether or not to issue contingent capital, which Swiss regulators would require by 2019. There were a number of substantial issues facing Dougan and his team, including whether contingent capital would provide sufficient loss absorption when called upon, would there be sufficient demand for this new instrument, would it be cost effective capital, and what were the risks to Credit Suisse's reputation with clients and regulators if an issue did not go well? In addition, The Basel Committee, the body that recommended global bank capital standards, had decided that much of the existing bank "hybrid debt" would no longer count as capital for regulatory purposes, meaning banks would need to replace this portion of their equity accounts with some other form of capital. However, Basel had yet to decide whether contingent capital would be allowable in the new "Basel III" regulatory regime.

Keywords: Financial Institutions; Capital Markets; Financial Crisis; Decision Choices and Conditions; Leadership; International Finance; Financial Liquidity; Risk and Uncertainty; Competitive Strategy; Financial Services Industry; Switzerland;

Citation:

Rose, Clayton S., and Aldo Sesia. "High Wire Act: Credit Suisse and Contingent Capital (A)." Harvard Business School Case 312-007, August 2011. (Revised October 2014.)