GENEVA, Switzerland -- CS Holding, the parent company of Credit Suisse, the third largest Swiss bank, announced Wednesday it was acquiring Swiss Volksbank, the fourth largest, in the largest Swiss banking merger in over 40 years.
'This is the largest banking takeover we've seen in Switzerland since World War II and its net result will be to put all three of these (largest) banks on an equal footing,' Claude de Saussure, President of the Swiss Bankers Association, said in a TV interview.
Volksbank will retain its separate identity under the deal, a brief announcement from CS Holding said. But rationalization of the activities of the two banks operations appeared to be the aim of the operation, with Volksbank's foreign operations in London, New York and Tokyo expected to be the major losers.
The deal is to be finalized through a stock swap between CS Holding and Volksbank, CS Holding said in an announcement. The two banks scheduled a joint press conference for later Wednesday to announce details.
CS Holding is the parent company of Credit Suisse, the third largest of the major Swiss banks, and a series of other financial companies including the New York-based CS-First Boston Investment House. Credit Suisse has traditionally been smaller in size than its two larger rivals, Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corp., but the takeover will give it equal status with them.
Saussure said he expected Volksbank, whose assets in 1991 were some $33.5 billion, would concentrate on domestic banking, while Credit Suisse, which is four times as large, would handle overseas and investment banking.