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(Bloomberg) -- Retail clients at Saxo Bank A/S are stepping up their fight to have it reverse last month’s decision to reprice Swiss franc trades.
Lawyers for clients representing about 100 million kroner ($15 million) in claims say they will send Saxo a letter this week telling the Danish bank to reimburse them for losses caused when it retroactively priced franc trades at less favorable rates following Switzerland’s Jan. 15 decision to send the franc into a free float.
Kasper Elbjoern, a spokesman for Saxo, declined to comment, saying it’s a legal matter and a question of client privacy. Saxo was aware its decision to reprice would probably trigger lawsuits, Chief Financial Officer Steen Blaafalk said Jan. 26. Jakob Ravnsbo, an attorney at Andersen Partners, which is representing Saxo clients inside and outside Denmark, says the dispute will end in court if Saxo doesn’t reimburse clients.
“We think they’re not allowed to do what they’ve done -- that their agreement with customers doesn’t give them the right to do it, and so we dispute this way of treating customers and of course ask them to change that,” Ravnsbo said in an interview.
Blaafalk said in January Saxo has the legal right to retroactively reprice deals under extraordinary circumstances. The bank has been negotiating with clients to recover some of the losses, he said then. Ravnsbo says his clients want full reimbursement for the losses caused by the repricing.
The Swiss National Bank’s decision to abandon its ties to the euro left a number of the world’s biggest banks on the wrong side of franc trades, with Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and Barclays Plc suffering about $400 million in cumulative trading losses, according to people familiar with the events. Saxo has said it stands to lose about $107 million, or roughly a third of its equity capital, because of the exchange-rate move.
In the moments that followed the SNB’s decision, Saxo continued to fill orders even as liquidity dried up. Hours later, the bank told clients the prices at which it closed orders would be adjusted to account for the extraordinary conditions. Since then, customers have lined up lawyers and sent complaints to Denmark’s Financial Supervisory Authority, challenging the bank’s actions and its marketing material.
According to one client complaint, sent to the Danish regulator and obtained by Bloomberg through a freedom-of- information request, Saxo said it could provide “dedicated liquidity.” The bank later informed the same client there “was no liquidity in the market.” The client lost 200,000 euros ($226,500), the FSA documents showed.
“They shouldn’t have repriced. They’re not allowed to reprice,” Ravnsbo said. “I don’t see it in their terms and conditions or in their agreements with customers.”
Denmark’s financial authorities also are scrutinizing the bank’s actions. In a Jan. 30 letter, the FSA asked Saxo why it took more than 2 1/2 hours to notify clients of the extraordinary conditions in the Swiss franc market, and why the bank didn’t stop trading amid a sharp increase in volatility.
To contact the reporter on this story: Frances Schwartzkopff in Copenhagen at firstname.lastname@example.org To contact the editors responsible for this story: Veronica Ek at email@example.com Tasneem Hanfi Brogger, Christian Wienberg