UBS downsizing investment bank division

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2011 2:53 PM
UBS downsizing investment bank division

Swiss lender UBS AG told investors how it is downsizing its investment bank and shrinking that division's staff as the overall bank tries to reduce risk.

At an investor meeting in New York Thursday, CEO Sergio Ermotti outlined management's plans to shutter some of the investment bank's operations, while growing the wealth management business.

The bank is trying to recover from a $2.3 billion rogue trading loss.

UBS said it anticipates personnel at its investment bank unit will fall to 16,000 by 2016 from the current 18,000. The estimates include 1,575 layoffs the company announced in August.

Most of those cuts have already taken place. The company expects that remaining jobs will be eliminated through attrition rather than layoffs.

Ermotti also trimmed the bank's profit forecast. He said UBS is aiming for a return on equity of between 12 percent and 17 percent. Two years ago, former UBS CEO Oswald Gruebel had set a return on equity goal of 15 percent to 20 percent.

Gruebel resigned in September after taking responsibility for the trading loss caused by a London-based trader. Kweku Adoboli, 31, was arrested Sept. 15 and has been charged with fraud and false accounting.

The lender said it will focus now on its wealth management businesses, which manage nearly $1.5 trillion in assets, and look to grow its market share at its retail and corporate banking business in Switzerland.

Its investment banking business will work closely with the wealth management business and focus on serving clients in UBS' other divisions. The company plans to get rid of nearly 50 percent of the risky assets in the investment banking division, which will require less capital.

The bank also said it planned to pay a dividend of 0.10 Swiss franc (11 U.S. cents) in 2011.

UBS isn't the only major bank cutting jobs as the financial industry gets leaner. On Wednesday, New York-based Citigroup Inc. said it may cut 3,000 or more employees, about 1 percent of its work force. In September, Bank of America Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., said it would cut 30,000 jobs over the next few years.

U.S.-traded shares of UBS shares 27 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $11.24 in afternoon trading.