The M&A Perspective

U.S. Department of Justice "Swiss Bank Program": A Path to Certainty for M&A Deals in 2016?


In March 2015, the first Swiss bank reached an agreement under the program of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which provides a path for Swiss banks to resolve potential criminal liabilities in the U.S. (Swiss Bank Program). Until today, 68 Swiss banks have entered into a non-prosecution agreement under the program. It is estimated that in total 90 banks are eligible to participate in the program.

In The M&A Perspective I/2014, we wondered whether a regulatory flood will provoke a wave of asset deals in the Swiss finance industry. So far, the regulatory flood materialized and there has been substantial activity in this sector, but not many deals involved Swiss banks. This relative inactivity in Switzerland was often explained by the fact that the unresolved potential US criminal liability rendered Swiss deals unattractive and too risky. If that had been true, we would now be up for a change in 2016. Now that many banks seem to have done away with the obstacle of unresolved U.S. criminal matters and the cost of compliance with many new laws and regulations continues to increase, a further market consolidation seems likely. We will stay tuned and keep you posted in 2016.


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