UBS names Ermotti as CEO, who says strategy will focus on wealth management

UBS has confirmed Sergio P Ermotti as the company’s new CEO while nominating Axel Weber as chairman, in a bid to reassure investors as shares continue to fall.

Ermotti has been acting CEO on an interim basis since late September when then chief executive Oswald Gruebel left the bank following its $2.3bn rogue trading scandal. The bank has since seen its shares fall. It will announce details of a new strategy on Thursday in a bid to restore confidence.

Ermotti will lead the company through the implication of the strategy in what looks to continue as challenging times for the bank following revelations surrounding Kweku Adoboli, the UBS employee accused of fraud and false accounting at the centre of the rogue trader scandal. Adoboli, is scheduled to appear in court in London next week to face charges but is yet to enter a plea.

Swiss-born Ermotti, 51, who is also a non-executive independent director of the London Stock Exchange, previously held positions at Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and most recently UniCredit where he was deputy chief executive.

Ermotti thanked the board for his appointment and said he would focus on executing the bank’s new strategy that he believes “plays to [its] many strengths.”

Said Ermotti: “This strategy will be centered on our leading wealth management businesses and our position as the strongest universal bank in Switzerland.

“A focused, less complex and less capital-intensive Investment Bank and our asset management business are also key elements for growing our wealth management franchise.”

Meanwhile  Axel Weber has been nominated to succeed Kaspar Villiger as chairman of the board from May 2012. This follows the widely anticipated decision by Villiger not to stand for re-election at the next annual general meeting.

Commenting on his decision, and the recent turbulent events surrounding the bank, Villiger said: “I am proud of what we have achieved during a very difficult time in our bank’s history. I am happy to announce that two highly competent, experienced professionals with complementary skills will assume leadership of the bank.

“Now we have stabilized UBS, turned it into one of the world’s best capitalized financial institutions, and defined its future strategy. I feel it is time to accelerate the planned leadership change at the highest levels of the bank.”

Villiger went on to say he believed the nomination of Weber, coupled with Ermotti’s appointment, would bring “essential stability and clarity to UBS.” The current chairman assured investors that the UBS’s new strategy would “master” the current economic challenges and regulatory changes facing it, ensuring its success over the long term for clients, shareholders and employees.

“To credibly serve the needs of our core wealth management clients, these businesses must each be strong and successful in meeting the needs of their corporate, sovereign, and institutional clients. Our industry-leading capital position gives us a significant competitive advantage, particularly during these challenging times.”

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