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Bank to propose new share offering

SWITZERLAND'S second-largest bank, Credit Suisse, said yesterday that it would ask shareholders for the option to raise equity capital for acquisitions and said 2009 had started well.

In line with steps taken by some international bank players, Credit Suisse said it would ask shareholders at an annual general meeting on April 24 to let it issue up to 100 million shares of authorized capital, or 10 percent of its capital, "for the purpose of financing the acquisition of companies."

This would amount to 3.7 billion Swiss francs (US$3.29 billion) at current market prices.

The bank would also ask to be allowed to issue another 100 million shares of conditional capital "to maintain strategic flexibility," after it almost entirely used up capital related to mandatory convertible notes issued in October last year.

Credit Suisse has so far managed to weather the financial crisis without government help and was able to raise 10 billion Swiss francs from investors at the end of last year.

The Swiss bank is also extremely well-capitalized compared to many international peers.

"Credit Suisse made a capital increase last year and they have used up all the authorisation. Now they want to be prepared," said Dirk Becker at Kepler Equities.


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