Business

A Swiss regulator’s decision to prioritise shareholder value over certain bondholders in the forced takeover of Credit Suisse could result in legal action, a law firm has warned.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan said a call for so-called AT1 bondholders would likely be held on Wednesday.

Holdings worth £14bn were wiped out under terms of the merger with UBS imposed by the Swiss financial watchdog FINMA during emergency talks at the weekend.

There is anger as those with AT1 bonds, who would expect to see losses, will get nothing – while shareholders, who usually rank below bondholders in terms of who gets paid when a bank or company collapses, will receive £2.7bn.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan told the Reuters news agency it was in discussions with a “significant percentage” of the Credit Suisse AT1 bondholders, with lawyers in Switzerland, the US and UK talking to a number of them about possible legal action.

The entities were not revealed by the law firm.

According to Morningstar data, funds managed by Lazard Freres Gestion, PIMCO and GAM Investments were among the most exposed as of the end of February to Credit Suisse AT1 debt in terms of portfolio weighting.

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Is history about to repeat itself?

The terms of the AT1 bonds – a particular type of bank debt – state that in a restructuring, the financial watchdog is under no obligation to adhere to the traditional capital structure hierarchy.

FINMA’s decision was cited as the reason for wider banks’ bond prices coming under pressure as investors focused on the potential risks of holding them.

The situation is understood to have calmed after other European regulators, including the Bank of England, declared that they would continue to impose losses on shareholders before AT1 bondholders in any similar takeover scenario.

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Wider financial markets have also resumed a firmer footing after an initial sell-off on Monday morning.

Asian stock markets were recording a tentative recovery for values on Tuesday, while European stock futures were tipped to do the same.

The FTSE 100 was expected to open 0.5% up, according to IG.

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