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Chief executive of Swiss bank UBS steps down

Marcel Rohner (photo), chief executive of the beleaguered Swiss bank UBS, has resigned and will be replaced by former Credit Suisse CEO Oswald Gruebel. UBS has reported huge losses and is caught up in a legal dispute with US authorities.

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AFP - Marcel Rohner, chief executive of the beleaguered Swiss bank UBS, has resigned and will be replaced by former Credit Suisse CEO Oswald Gruebel with immediate effect, the bank announced Thursday.

Gruebel's appointment "represents a further step to restore stakeholder confidence and to pave the way back to success," said a UBS statement.

Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS lost billions in the financial crisis and is also caught up in a legal dispute with the United States over a tax evasion probe.

UBS chairman Peter Kurer said Rohner had informed the board of his intention to resign in January, as the repositioning of its investment bank unit, which was blamed for most of its losses, came to an end.

Kurer thanked Rohner for his contributions and said he showed "tremendous commitment" to the bank and shareholders.

But the bank is now looking to Gruebel, who headed Credit Suisse between 2003 and early 2007, to turn the bank around.

"With his previous employer Credit Suisse, Mr Gruebel was the architect of a successful turnaround and restored confidence in the company in turbulent times," said UBS.

Credit Suisse posted a full-year loss in 2002 amid legal charges arising from the Enron scandal and the independence of its research analysts. The bank returned to profitability just a year later, with Gruebel at the helm.

UBS said Gruebel's experience in leading a bank through a transformation would be "invaluable to UBS in this challenging environment."

UBS posted a record annual loss of about 17 billion dollars (13 billion euros) for 2008, the largest full-year loss in Swiss corporate history.

It is also under pressure from the United States over a tax fraud investigation.

Last week, UBS provided data on 250 to 300 clients to the US government and paid a fine of 780 million dollars to settle a case of abetting tax fraud by US clients.

A day later, the US government filed a separate lawsuit to try to force UBS to disclose the identities of 52,000 US customers who allegedly evaded taxes.

 

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