Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam intervened personally to stop the bank advising French insurance group Covéa on a contentious move to buy rival Scor, according to the head of the takeover target.
The Swiss bank was working with mutual insurer Covéa on a possible bid for Paris-based reinsurer Scor, but pulled out in the autumn.
In an interview with French business newspaper Les Echos, Scor chief executive Denis Kessler said the decision was down to Mr Thiam himself. “I salute the exemplary behaviour of Tidjane Thiam who decided, after an internal inquiry, to pull his support from Covéa in the month of November 2018,” he said.
It is unusual for a the group chief executive of a bank to make such a direct intervention in the day-to-day operations of one of its business units.
Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Scor pushed back strongly against the bid, and Covéa said last month that it was no longer interested in buying the company. But the saga is not at an end. Mr Kessler has launched legal action against Covéa, its chief executive Thierry Derez and its other advisers, Barclays and Rothschild.
Covéa owns an 8 per cent stake in Scor, and Mr Derez was on the Scor board of directors until last November.
The reinsurer alleges that Mr Derez distributed confidential information he had learnt as a Scor director to Covéa and its bankers, to further the mutual’s chances of a successful deal.
Scor won a case in London’s High Court in December to force Credit Suisse to hand over documents relating to the deal. Mr Kessler told Les Echos: “Credit Suisse sent us more than 395 mails and 3,000 pages, which contained information and documents from Scor that should never have been sent to third parties.”
He added that Mr Derez had “violated obligations of loyalty and confidentiality which constrained him and committed an abuse of trust”.
Covéa has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement last month, the company said: “Covéa’s board of directors firmly rejects all the groundless accusations made by Scor and reaffirms its unanimous support to Thierry Derez and his action. Covéa will take all action in order to defend its interests in view of the serious reputational harm resulting from Scor’s unacceptable accusations.”
Mr Derez was not immediately available for comment. He dismissed Scor’s claims as “contrived” in an interview with Le Monde earlier this month.
Covéa’s other advisers, Barclays and Rothschild, continued to work for the insurer after Credit Suisse pulled out. They are now facing legal action from Scor in the UK High Court and have declined to comment on the case.
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