Philipp Rickenbacher is resigning with immediate effect, the Swiss institute confirmed on Thursday reports from the previous day. Until a permanent successor is found, his deputy Nic Dreckmann will take over the helm.
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The bank is making a value adjustment on loans to an unnamed group of companies with a volume of 586 million francs (around 627 million euros). According to insiders, this is Signa. The impairment led to a 52 percent decline in profits for the Zurich financial institution for 2023 to 454 million francs. Analysts had expected a profit of a good 800 million francs.
“Express my deepest regret”
“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I express my deep regret that the full impairment of the largest exposure in our private debt business has significantly impacted our consolidated profit for 2023,” said Board Chairman Romeo Lacher. In the future, the bank wants to concentrate on lending in more traditional areas.
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In November, Bär announced a value adjustment of 70 million francs on its loan portfolio. Analysts later assumed that this might not be enough. The Zürcher Kantonalbank, for example, estimated the loan loss on this commitment at 400 million francs. With such loans it is often not possible to have recourse to real assets. However, a complete write-off was not expected.
Many customers remain loyal
The Swiss financial institution is one of the largest lenders to the Tyrolean investor Rene Benko’s real estate group. Signa is the most prominent victim of the real estate crisis in Europe so far. Last week it became known that Signa Holding was returning ownership of the restructuring process and that the restructuring manager was taking over the helm.
Despite the negative headlines surrounding the business relationship with Signa, many customers apparently remained loyal to the bank. For the year as a whole, the bank collected 12.5 billion francs in fresh money.