When Credit Suisse opened its first office in Saudi Arabia in early 2021, Bruno Daher, the cigar-smoking head of Credit Suisse’s Middle East business, declared it a “key growth market”.
The branch, at the intersection of King Abdullah and King Fahd Road in central Riyadh, was symbolic of the deepening relationship between the storied Swiss lender and the wealthy Kingdom.
Yet two years later, the relationship has soured spectacularly.
A Saudi investor played a key role in the demise of the 167-year-old Swiss lender after tin-eared comments sparked a run on the bank’s shares.
In the process, the Saudis have blown up their own investment, sparking recriminations at home and raising serious questions about the country’s ability to gain a foothold in the global banking industry.