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UBS Splits Wealth Management Division In Second Restructure This Year

Wendy Spires

5 August 2009

UBS has restructured its wealth management business, splitting the Wealth Management & Swiss Bank division into Swiss and international arms.

Juerg Zeltner was named head of the international wealth management business, while Franco Morra will head UBS Switzerland.

Having been split, the two units will continue to cooperate closely and share some administrative and cost functions.

Marten Hoekstra will continue as chief of the Swiss bank’s Wealth Management Americas business, which continues unchanged.

UBS reorganised its wealth management divisions into two elements Wealth Management & Swiss Bank, and Wealth Management Americas in February of this year; Messrs Morra and Zeltner - two new group executive board members - were appointed to co-head Wealth Management & Swiss Bank.

At the time UBS said the changes were designed to refocus the bank on its core Swiss businesses and develop its international onshore operations.

UBS said in an internal memo today that it was "confronted with a number of obstacles that are further delaying the turnaround of net new money flows."

According to the bank’s interim results statement, UBS continued to suffer outflows in the second quarter of 2009, while the group as a whole logged a loss of SFr1.402 billion ($1.322 billion).

The Zurich-listed group recorded net new money outflows of SFr16.5 billion for its Wealth Management and Swiss Bank arm, and outflows of SFr5.8 billion in its Wealth Management Americas division.

Wealth Management & Swiss Bank recorded a pre-tax profit of SFr932 million, compared with SFr1.077 million for the first quarter of 2009. Wealth Management Americas recorded a pre-tax loss of SFr221 million compared with a pre-tax loss of SFr35 million.

UBS has been embroiled in a damaging legal clash with the US authorities over allegations that it helped wealthy US citizens evade taxes in offshore accounts. The bank paid a $780 million fine and exited its US offshore business in February this year to settle criminal charges related to the row, but legal wranglings have rumbled on concerning whether the bank can be forced to hand over details of thousands of its US offshore clients.

An agreement between the US and Swiss governments to resolve the UBS case, which has highlighted the friction between governments over offshore banking and secrecy, was announced late last week.

The proposed resolution of a US - on which an announcement is expected later this week - will leave Swiss bank secrecy intact, according to media reports.