March 14, 2020 / 12:43 PM / 18 days ago

Swiss banks mull $21 billion coronavirus business loan programme - Handelszeitung

FILE PHOTO - The logos of Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse are seen at branch offices in Basel, Switzerland March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s major lenders are considering a 20 billion Swiss franc ($21 billion) (17.12 billion pounds) loan programme to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, Handelszeitung reported.

Banks including Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) and UBS (UBSG.S), and possibly large local lenders Zuercher Kantonalbank and Raiffeisen, are discussing a loan programme for small- and medium-sized businesses facing liquidity shortages to be provided by a fund, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.

Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) Chief Executive Thomas Gottstein is spearheading the proposal, according to the report.

Credit Suisse on Saturday said it was actively communicating with the Swiss government, the Swiss National Bank and financial supervisor FINMA to examine possibilities to support Swiss small and medium enterprises through liquidity and credits.

Zuercher Kantonalbank and Raiffeisen did not immediately respond to requests for comment. UBS declined to comment.

The Swiss government on Friday said it would make 10 billion Swiss francs available in immediate assistance to support businesses hit by the coronavirus, as it ramped up its response to the widening pandemic

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Mike Harrison

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