UBS to reorganize struggling U.S. wealth management

By Clare Baldwin and Martin de Sa’Pinto

NEW YORK/ZURICH (BestGrowthStock) – Troubled Swiss bank UBS, which has been battered by a U.S. tax evasion probe, is reorganizing its U.S. wealth management division in an attempt to stem outflows.

The Swiss bank, the world’s second largest wealth manager, said on Friday the recently appointed heads of its wealth management unit, Robert McCann and Robert Mulholland, had outlined broad plans for a restructuring and management reshuffle.

News of the changes drew initial skepticism from the market. They are part of a months-long process McCann has undertaken to revive an 8,000-strong brokerage force caught in the firing line of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service investigation.

“They are implementing a plan that was effectively announced when McCann presented at the investor conference in November. He said then he needed … to turn things around,” said Kepler Equities analyst Dirk Becker.

McCann, who joined UBS as head of the Americas wealth management unit in October 2009, said then he would unveil his strategy to create a nimbler business early in 2010.

In the past year, hundreds of brokers have left the bank and clients have yanked billions in assets.

McCann and Mulholland, both ex-Merrill Lynch employees, said UBS is consolidating its U.S. wealth business into two units from three, led by David McWilliams and Michael Schweitzer.

One analyst, who asked not to be named, was not convinced the new measures could help turn the tide, offering two words: “Deckchairs. Titanic.”

UBS shares shed 1.7 percent to 13.71 Swiss francs by 4:29 a.m. EST, broadly in line with the Dow Jones Stoxx European banks index and beating home rival Credit Suisse, which was down 2.5 percent.

UBS reports 2009 results on Feb 9 and Credit Suisse on Feb 11.

Stock Market News

(editing by John Stonestreet)

UBS to reorganize struggling U.S. wealth management