Singapore targets UBS over Libor

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 3:11am


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UBS is under investigation in Singapore along with other banks for possible manipulation of Libor and other benchmark rates, the Swiss bank said yesterday.

In notes to its third quarter earnings report, UBS said that the Monetary Authority of Singapore, as well as authorities in Britain, United States and Switzerland, are conducting investigations into whether it and other banks tried to manipulate rates.

More than a dozen banks are under investigation by regulators in the US, Europe and Asia. This is the first time that UBS, which is undergoing a major overhaul, has disclosed it is involved in the Singapore investigation.

Thebank said yesterday it plans to save about 3.4 billion Swiss francs (HK$28 billion) in annual costs by 2015 as it reduces headcount to about 54,000.

It will cut about 10,000 jobs and also retreat from capitalintensive trading businesses to boost profitability.

The company will target a return on equity of at least 15 per cent starting in 2015, compared with a previous goal of 12 per cent to 17 per cent.

Chief executive Sergio Ermotti is overhauling UBS as stricter capital requirements and sluggish client activity hurt profit.

UBS will focus more on its wealth management business, the world's second-largest, to boost returns for shareholders.

"This is a very bold move," Christopher Wheeler, a London-based analyst at Mediobanca, said before the release. "It will take time and the execution risk will be high. In the longer term, if it works, it will leave a business that is a cash cow."

The bank posted a net loss of 2.17 billion francs in the third quarter, compared with a profit of 1.02 billion francs a year earlier, after booking a pretax impairment charge of 3.1 billion francs related to goodwill and other non-financial assets associated with the investment bank. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated UBS would report a 439 million franc profit.

The reorganisation will result in restructuring charges of 3.3 billion francs over the next three years, UBS said.

The total includes about 500 million francs in the fourth quarter, which will probably lead to a net loss for the period.