UBS Names New CEO

The Swiss banking giant UBS AG (UBS) announced today that it was replacing current CEO, Marcel Rohner, with the highly regarded ex-Credit Suisse chief Oswald Gruebel. UBS, one of the largest companies in the world, seeks to restore investor confidence after massive losses in the 4th quarter and backlash from the US government.

Chairman Peter Kurer said Gruebel has “the ideal skill set to recreate value, together with our management team, for our shareholders and clients.” Gruebel vowed to bring UBS back on a “profitable, successful track.”

I am convinced that the Swiss financial center requires the presence of more than one big global bank. The opportunity to lead UBS with its unique client franchise in wealth management, investment banking and asset management in these extraordinary times presents a fascinating, yet formidable challenge to me. – Gruebel, in a press statement.

His appointment follows news that the the company would cut 2,200 jobs at its investment banking arm and restructure its wealth management operations. For the 4th quarter, UBS AG reported a hefty 8.1 billion Swiss francs ($7 billion) loss, the result of a 7.5 billion franc loss in its investment banking business:

[UBS] was hit by trading losses, further write-downs on its exposure to bond insurers and impairment charges taken against its leveraged finance commitments. – MarketWatch.

View the full UBS chart at Wikinvest

A lawsuit was also filed against UBS by the US government, in an attempt to recover information on as many as 52,000 accounts held by American customers:

The Swiss bank said it plans to fight the case, but investors have interpreted the civil proceedings by the IRS as a broader attempt to sweep aside the secrecy laws that surround Swiss private banking.

The lawsuit was filed last week, following a deal with U.S. authorities, under which UBS agreed to pay $780 million and hand over a limited amount of client data in a deferred prosecution agreement over charges it conspired to defraud the U.S. by impeding the IRS.

Gruebel, nicknamed “Saint Ossie” for his great work in turning around Credit Suisse, has his work cut out for him at UBS. Let’s hope he gets the job done.

On February 26th, 2009, posted in: Markets by Tags: , , , ,
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