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UBS: Ermotti’s golden goodbye means Hamers needs to be humble

The outgoing CEO’s surprisingly good final results mean his successor has less room for manoeuvre.

Sergio Ermotti. Source: World Economic Forum/ Remy Steinegger

UBS’s stellar financial performance in the third quarter reinforces its position as the best-performing big bank stock in Europe. This was revealed in the last results announcement by CEO Sergio Ermotti.

With M&A gaining traction across the continent, the boost to UBS’s share price of these unexpectedly good Q3 numbers means the bank is even better-placed to lead this trend, as Ermotti’s successor, ex-ING CEO Ralph Hamers, takes over as chief executive on November 1.

While the Swiss firm is trading at a discount to its equity book value of about 25%, that compares with an average of almost 40% across western Europe and more than 50% in the eurozone, according to research from Citi.

The share-price differential is due to the picture on profit, and therefore dividends, compared with the rest of Europe.

A good financial performance this year at UBS makes it more difficult for the Swiss financial regulator Finma to justify continued restrictions on pay-outs, especially if Credit Suisse and other Swiss banks do well, too.

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