Date: 15th October 1993
Author: Alain Fabarez
For the first time, the liquidation of a financial company is settled by a 100% reimbursement in favour of the creditors (interests included)
Despite the sharp intervention of the Federal Banking Commission
July 1992: a hard month for Fabrizio Cerina, who had found himself until then riding the crest of the wave. In 1980, this young man created a financial company, Attel & Co., thanks to a loan jointly granted by the Banca Popolare di Novara and his family. Nobody knew it, then, but this had to be the beginning of a great success in the world of finance. His speciality: some assets management, but first of all sophisticated corporate finance which allowed him to grow not only in Switzerland, but also in Luxembourg, London, Milan, Monte Carlo, and in other places around the planet. At the end of the 80’s, he was controlling some ten companies, two of which in Switzerland: Attel & Co., devoted to assets management for individuals and institutions, with 600-700 customers, and the Crédit des Alpes. Attel & Co. was managed by one of his right-hand men, who had been working with him since over ten years and who enjoyed his total trust. A hard month of July, then, because at that moment, the manager announced him point-blank that he had lost 4 million dollars on some speculative US securities listed on the Nasdaq. Then, in front of the Board of Directors, the responsible admitted a loss of 21 million dollars and was immediately suspended. The Fiduciaire Atag, called-in to estimate the real loss, quantified it in September in some 32 million dollars. For a subsidiary company earning some hundred of thousand francs a year, it was a real catastrophe.
For Fabrizio Cerina, who had always been invariably succesful until then, the stroke was hard. He knew that, in business, only confidence is rewarding, and also that if he let one subsidiary company go bankrupt - something he could easily do, since according to his statements he was not at all informed of the actions of his man of confidence - he would loose nothing and could charge the loss on the customers of the bank. But his good name as a businessman was at stake, and he chose a completely different way: that of facing the situation and of injecting funds of his own to cover the loss.
AN INJECTION OF 42 MILLIONS SWISS FRANCS
The solution he chose was then the most expensive, but also the one that would maintain his good name. He decided to gradually inject 42 millions of Swiss francs - i.e., 22.2 millions at the end of 1992 and the balance at the beginning of 1993 - that would allow the company, which was put in liquidation, to pay all creditors and bank customers at 100 percent, interests included. A real première for Switzerland.
Today, it is over. All customers have been completely reimbursed. But despite the happy end of this affair, Fabrizio Cerina had to fight against the suspicions of some local journalists, some legal misunderstandings, the declarations of his former responsible and also against the intervention of the Federal Banking Commission, which asked him in December to liquidate one of the two Lugano subsidiary companies as soon as possible and so doing, not allowing him to give a job to more than 13 collaborators out of a team of about 60 he used to employ.