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OPINION

Sideways: Why does ‘Killer’ Karofsky get second billing in UBS’s The Odd Couple?

Jon Macaskill profiles the two new co-heads of investment banking at UBS.

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When UBS had to replace its investment bank head Andrea Orcel, who is leaving to become CEO of Santander, it came up with a convenient internal solution to the succession problem.

UBS group CEO Sergio Ermotti may nevertheless have set the scene for future conflict with his decision to give top billing to Piero Novelli in the announcement that the veteran M&A adviser will co-head the investment bank alongside equities chief Rob Karofsky.

Alphabetical order by surname would dictate that Karofsky got the first mention, but the UBS announcement instead gave prominence to Novelli and led with the news that he will focus on the corporate client solutions business line, while Karofsky will supervise the investor client services unit.

Revenue generation is another factor that should point to a lead role for Karofsky in the UBS remake of the Odd Couple at the top of its investment bank.

In the first half of this year, Karofsky’s securities business generated SFr3 billion of revenue, more than twice the SFr1.45 billion from Novelli’s advisory and capital markets unit.