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UBS: From Swiss bear to Asian bull

Of all the global investment banks, UBS has perhaps the most unlikely provenance, rooted as it is in private-banking skills. After transformational acquisitions a new UBS has emerged that means business. Group CEO Peter Wuffli outlines its ambitions in Asia.

UBS's GROUP CHIEF executive officer, Peter Wuffli, cuts a somewhat unlikely figure for a global head of one of the world's leading investment banks. Softly spoken and self-effacing, he might seem more at home pampering wealthy private clients in his native Switzerland than getting involved upfront in one of the world's most cut-throat businesses.

Appearances can be deceptive. Behind the mild manners and urbane exterior lies a conviction and determination that has steered UBS through difficult markets, tricky acquisitions and vicious competition to begrudging acceptance from its mainly US peer group. Long dismissed by its competitors as a private bank pretending to be an investment bank, in May, UBS went some way towards dispelling this notion when it announced record results for the first quarter to March 31 2004.

Significantly, the bulk of the group's income growth came from its investment banking activities. Net income from fixed income, equities and foreign exchange trading activities was up 88%, 35% and 29% respectively over the fourth quarter in 2003. Operating profit from the group's investment banking division increased by 115% to SFr1.67

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