SNB May Add Postfinance as Fifth Swiss Too-Big-to-Fail Lender

Aug 27, 2014 9:10 am ET

Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The Swiss central bank is considering whether to add state-owned Postfinance to a list of banks including UBS AG considered systemically relevant in an effort to shield the country from future financial crises.

The Swiss National Bank contacted Postfinance last week to inform the lender it would examine its possible systemic relevance, Marc Andrey, a spokesman for the Bern-based lender said today. The company yesterday reported a 4.5 percent increase in customer assets to 115 billion Swiss francs ($126 billion) in the year’s first half from a year ago.

The SNB is stepping up oversight of the nation’s lenders to prevent a repeat of the fallout of the financial crisis that led to a bailout of UBS AG, the nation’s biggest bank. With the central bank signaling concerns about the risk of a property bubble, the government earlier this year forced banks to hold additional capital to make them more resilient to writedowns.

The SNB classifies lenders as systemically important based on the size of assets, market share of domestic deposits, loans and payments as well as the company’s risk profile, quality of assets and liquidity. UBS, Credit Suisse Group AG, Zuercher Kantonalbank and Raiffeisen Group have already been declared too big to fail by the central bank.

Walter Meier, a spokesman for the SNB, declined to comment. Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported earlier today that Postfinance has been contacted by the SNB, citing Chief Executive Officer Hansruedi Koeng.