BlackRock explored rival Credit Suisse takeover bid

BlackRock drew up a rival bid for Credit Suisse that would trump a plan blessed by the Swiss central bank for UBS to acquire its struggling rival, five people with knowledge of the matter told the Financial Times.

The US investment giant evaluated a number of options and talked to other potential investors, said people briefed about the matter. Among the options were bids for only portions of the business.

However, BlackRock on Saturday said it “is not participating in any plans to acquire all or any part of Credit Suisse, and has no interest in doing so”.

Larry Fink, co-founder and chief executive of $8.6tn money manager BlackRock, was driving the bid, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Fink used to work at First Boston, Credit Suisse’s investment banking business.

BlackRock has long been one of Credit Suisse’s biggest investment banking clients, particularly its fixed-income trading desk. A deal, especially for its US arm, would be an opportunistic way to bring trading capacity in-house, one of the people said.

Any agreement would face significant regulatory hurdles in Europe and the US.

The Swiss National Bank and regulator Finma favour a Swiss solution to resolve the crisis at Credit Suisse, according to people familiar with the matter.

The FT reported on Friday that the SNB and Finma are orchestrating negotiations between Credit Suisse and UBS in an attempt to shore up confidence in the country’s banking sector. The pair have explored a transaction that could result in a full or partial combination between the banks.

The talks came days after the central bank was forced to provide an emergency SFr50bn ($54bn) credit line to Credit Suisse.

However, this support failed to arrest a slide in the bank’s share price, which has fallen to record lows after its largest investor ruled out providing any more capital and its chair admitted that it was continuing to suffer an exodus of wealth management clients.

Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Laura Noonan

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