UPDATE 1-UBS adds six execs to Asia wealth management arm

Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:49pm EST

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HONG KONG Nov 19 (Reuters) - UBS AG (UBSN.VX) said on Wednesday it has hired six executives for its Asian wealth management arm, as it looks to retain its lead position in the region even as the global financial crisis slams the industry.

The Swiss firm, the largest banker to the rich globally and in Asia, said the executives would join its operations in Hong Kong and Singapore. UBS Wealth Management has more than 1,000 client advisers across the Asia Pacific region.

"Despite challenging market conditions, UBS continues to focus on enhancing its franchise by selectively hiring experienced bankers," Kathryn Shih, head of UBS Wealth Management, Asia Pacific, said in a statement.

She added that the hires "underline UBS's commitment to building its wealth management business in Asia".

UBS was the largest private bank in Asia, ahead of Citigroup (C.N), HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L)(0005.HK), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and Merrill Lynch MER.N according to a recent ranking by Calamander Group.

The hires announced on Wednesday include Adeline Chien, who UBS said was most recently an executive director with the private wealth arm of Goldman Sachs (GS.N). Chien will join as a managing director in Hong Kong.

J.P. Upadhyaya, who recently headed HSBC Private Bank's team focusing on wealthy Indians living abroad, will join as an executive director in Hong Kong. Also joining as an executive director in Hong Kong is Agnes Kuan, who worked for Merrill's private banking arm for more than a decade.

Irene Tan, Jonathan Ng and Ong Lay Khiam will join UBS in Singapore. Tan and Ng were both at HSBC, while Ong is a former corporate banker.

Shih told Reuters last month that the unit had slowed the rate at which it was adding staff as markets tumbled. She said it was looking to add around 100 advisers after adding about 350 client advisers annually in recent years.

UBS said earlier this month a state bailout was helping stem client money outflows, but it needed stable markets to revive its key wealth management business. UBS has made more writedowns than any other bank in Europe, which spurred some of its rich clients to move assets elsewhere. (Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree)

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