Money & Banking

Hundreds of jobs at stake as UBS mulls overhaul

Bloomberg August 9 | Updated on August 09, 2019 Published on August 09, 2019

Almost a year after taking over at UBS Group AG’s investment bank, co-heads Piero Novelli and Rob Karofsky are working on their first shake-up of the business.

Novelli, who runs deals, is considering a reshuffle of his leadership as he and trading chief Karofsky seek to revamp a division that’s posted volatile results in the past year, according to people familiar with the matter. Their plans could entail hundreds of job cuts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public.

The discussions are preliminary and a final decision has not been made, the people said. UBS declined to comment.

UBS is seeking to boost collaboration between dealmakers and the wealth management unit, while sharpening a focus on industries most of interest to its richest clients. That approach has already been successful for the Swiss bank this year.

Large deals

The business of advising clients on deals and stock offerings was a standout in the second quarter, after slumping 48 per cent in the first three months of the year. The rebound was helped by UBS’ role in advising on a string of large deals, including the spin-off of contact lens maker Alcon Inc from Novartis, and Amcor’s acquisition of packaging company, Bemis.

UBS has also tapped into its network of wealthy clients. The firm helped Asian families secure billions of dollars worth of investments in Manhattan properties with help from the investment bank. The unit is also seeking to do more with private equity firms, pensions and sovereign wealth funds, adding talent from rivals.

Still, the investment bank’s 10 per cent return on equity in the first half of the year was roughly half that of UBS’ other divisions. The unit had 5,333 employees at the end of June.

Published on August 09, 2019
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