Credit Suisse’s final AGM was a suitably bizarre event for a firm that has become the byword for corporate scandal in recent years.
As many disgruntled shareholders said, the bank’s collapse has been long in the making with a reliable string of wrongdoing slowly eroding trust in the 167-year old institution.
Fortunately, a slightly less reliable string of characters were on hand to provide Credit Suisse with a fond farewell.
First up we had a man in a red tie and a grey suit, garments chosen especially for the occasion.
The grey suit represented the “people at Credit Suisse who had stepped outside the grey zone”, he said, while the red tie showed that he and “many other shareholders are seeing red”.
Our carefully dressed friend also noted the police presence outside the venue. “I didn’t bring my gun along today, don’t worry,” he said reassuringly.
The violent imagery continued. In a bizarre intervention, one shareholder said: “I can only remind you of what would have happened to you in mediaeval times, you would have been crucified.”
City A.M. understands that a time-travelling Axel Lehmann would likely have avoided crucifixion, a famously Roman punishment.
Then things really went nuts. Literally.
Having purchased a packet of walnuts for the price of one Credit Suisse share, the shareholder had removed the nut from the shell before putting the shell back together again.
He then offered the empty shells – presumably meant to symbolise something like the bank’s empty promises – to Credit Suisse’s unflappable chair.
Fortunately, Lehmann already had his own packet of nuts to keep him going. This was just as well as the AGM lasted the best part of five hours, pushing back the traditional post-AGM refreshments.
The nutty shareholder also had an empty coconut shell, bought for the price of eight shares. Its unclear why.
The comical antics at Credit Suisse’s AGM almost obscured the very real and justified anger that its shareholders feel about the deal. And to be fair Lehmann expressed genuine regret at how things ended for Credit Suisse.
Amidst the nuts and the historical inaccuracies, we shouldn’t forget that the real problem at Credit Suisse was continued misconduct over a sustained period of time. Just last week we learnt it breached a plea deal with the US Department of Justice helping US citizens avoid millions in tax.
UBS will have a lot on its hands over the coming weeks.