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BANKING

UBS begins fightback in investment banking

Wilmot-Sitwell and Kengeter take charge; Misra hire counters key staff departures

Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, UBS

"It is clear to anyone that the investment bank is a critical component of the overall group"

Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, UBS

Reports of the death of UBS’s investment banking business may have been exaggerated. The firm ranks sixth for all investment banking revenues for the first five months of the year – ahead of firms that have supposedly thrived through the downturn, such as Barclays, Deutsche Bank and local rival Credit Suisse. Competitors insist that the impact of key departures, constrained compensation and uncertainty over the future role of the investment bank within the UBS group are only now becoming apparent in its ability to win key business, and that the firm’s position is certain to fall in the coming months.

Certainly UBS has been through the mire. Now-departed chief executive Marcel Rohner wanted to force the investment bank to stand on its own two feet, after sub-prime write-downs caused tens of billions of euros of losses at group level – which in turn hit the bank’s key wealth management franchise. Both outsiders and internal UBS staff speculated that it was a first move to selling off, or shutting down, the investment bank in whole or in part.

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