UBS Merges Wealth Units

UBS Merges Wealth Units

Pretax earnings rose 34 percent thanks to solid growth in its core worldwide wealth management business, which the bank announced it would be combining with Wealth Management Americas into a unified Global Wealth Management division.

The bank has been more closely aligning the two wealth management units over the last two years.

UBS said as well on Monday that it would be increasing its dividend to 0.65 Swiss francs a share for its investors, which equals a jump of 8% in comparison to previous year.

The combined unit will have two co-presidents; Martin Blessing, the head of the current wealth management unit, and Tom Naratil, president of UBS Americas.

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UBS also announced that it would write off around CHF2.9bn as a outcome of the recent USA tax reform legislation, joining other non-US banks that have also been hit hard in their fourth-quarter results by Trump's so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The merger follows the appointment of former Commerzbank AG CEO Blessing to lead the worldwide wealth unit after Juerg Zeltner, a 30-year veteran of the bank, announced his departure in December. Banks including Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse also all disclosed one-time charges.

The world's biggest wealth manager UBS Group AG (USA) (NYSE:UBS) has constricted its trading activities since the financial crisis to make space for funds to satisfy tougher rules on loss-absorbing capacity. The lender has a CET1 ratio - a key metric of financial strength - of 13.8 percent and said it intends to operate with that at 13 percent. As an alternative, it is committed to raise the dividend by mid to high single digit percent a year. Excluding this net write-down, net profit would have been 641 million francs. The bank's last buyback was in 2007 and it held its last strategy update in 2014.

"We are now in a position to continue and implement our attractive capital return policy, we increased our ordinary dividend and announcing (a) share buyback program", Ermotti told CNBC.

Singapore's sovereign-wealth fund GIC ceased being the biggest shareholder in UBS in May after cutting its ownership by nearly half, saying it was "disappointed" that it lost money during the near-decade it was invested in the Swiss bank.

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