UBS AG (UBSN), Switzerland’s biggest bank, said it will charge financial institutional clients less than 100 basis points for cash balances held in Swiss francs.
The fee will be set on a case-by-case basis, the Zurich- based company said today. A basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point.
UBS said this month it would start levying charges on Dec. 21, adding to measures imposed last year to control inflows into clearing accounts. The bank has been levying a “temporary excess balance fee” since August 2011 in cash clearing accounts where net inflows were above a certain undisclosed threshold.
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), the second-biggest Swiss bank, this month also started imposing negative rates on cash clearing accounts of banks in francs and other currencies above a certain threshold.
UBS and Credit Suisse are cutting risk-taking and reducing their balance sheets to meet stricter capital requirements from regulators. Franc deposits held for other banks use up capital and introducing charges allows a lender to compensate. Both banks have been encouraging clients to keep their cash balances in francs as low as possible.
Depositors have turned to Switzerland and Denmark as they hunt for currencies with less risk than the euro, the fate of which depends in part on whether nations such as Greece can pay their debts. Switzerland’s central bank imposed a cap of 1.20 francs per euro in September 2011 to protect the economy after investors seeking a haven from Europe’s debt crisis pushed the exchange rate toward parity.
State Street Corp. (STT:US) and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., two of the world’s biggest custody banks, have already disclosed plans to offer negative interest rates on francs and Danish kroner. Royal Bank of Canada is also imposing negative rates on some customers for those currencies.
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