Credit Suisse Long/Short Liquid Index ETN (CSLS) was listed for trading yesterday (February 22, 2010). It is not a hedge fund ETN, and it does not track the similarly-named Credit Suisse Tremont Long/Short Equity Hedge Fund Index. It is an unsecured debt obligation of Credit Suisse. Furthermore, Credit Suisse may choose to suspend the creation/redemption process at any time, eliminating the ability to arbitrage the security’s trading price to its indicative value. Credit Suisse may also choose to delist but not liquidate this offering, leaving investors hanging. Do not buy CSLS.
Credit Suisse obviously cares little about those who invest in its exchange-traded products. In fact, the firm has demonstrated an outright disrespect of those investors. The warnings outlined above are not hypothetical examples – they are actual events involving other Credit Suisse ETNs.
The marketing literature might lead you to believe that CSLS will track the Credit Suisse Tremont Long/Short Equity Hedge Fund Index, which is referred to as the “Target Index.” However, CSLS will not track the “Target Index.” Instead it will track a newly created index called the Credit Suisse Long/Short Liquid Index. This new index is designed to correlate to the “Target Index” by tracking the performance of non-hedge fund, transparent market measures. In other words, it is a newly-created hedge fund replication index. Since an ETN can track any index it chooses, one can’t help but wonder why this ETN did not choose to track its Target Index.
In February 2009, Credit Suisse arbitrarily suspended the creation/redemption process on one of its products, a gold ETN. Unaware that the product was no longer tracking its underlying index, traders quickly pushed it to a 1,000% premium. It is easy to get burned when products that are supposed to track their indicative value no longer do so.
In April 2009, Credit Suisse delisted three ETNs but did not liquidate the funds and return the money to shareholders. Today, those three Credit Suisse ETNs are still trading OTC. Credit Suisse provides bids if you are willing to part with your shares at a price far below fair value.
Bottom line, Credit Suisse has yet to offer an exchange-traded product to the US marketplace that meets the operational standards US investors expect. Maybe Credit Suisse has turned over a new leaf with CSLS. Then again, since they were never punished for their prior acts of disrespect, there’s no reason to change now.
Disclosure covering writer, editor, and publisher: No positions in any of the securities mentioned. No positions in any of the companies or ETF sponsors mentioned. No income, revenue, or other compensation (either directly or indirectly) received from, or on behalf of, any of the companies or ETF sponsors mentioned.