More UBS job cuts seen, 240 axed in Asia-Pacific

SINGAPORE/ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss bank UBS UBSN.VXUBS.N is cutting 3 percent of its Asia-Pacific staff, in what banking sources said was part of a fresh round of global job cuts at the crisis-hit bank.

A traffic sign stands in front of the logo of Swiss bank UBS at the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

A UBS spokesman in Hong Kong said on Tuesday the bank will cut 240 jobs, all in the wealth management business. Banking sources said they included 100 redundancies in Singapore, where UBS is a relatively strong player in private banking.

Swiss newspapers reported on Sunday that UBS, one of Europe’s banks hit hardest by the financial crisis, will announce big new job cuts soon, possibly on April 22. UBS declined to comment on the reports.

New Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel, a former Credit Suisse CSGN.VX boss brought out of retirement by UBS in February, has already signaled that more cuts were inevitable. He will address his first UBS shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

The bank has already announced plans to cut about 11,000 jobs, most of them in investment banking, to bring the total staff down to about 75,000 this year.

Helvea analyst Peter Thorne said he expected UBS would cut another 5,00-10,000 jobs. “It’s inevitable. Gruebel has made that clear from the day he started.”

UBS shares jumped 13.4 percent to 13.02 Swiss francs by 0854 GMT, outperforming a 6 percent higher DJ Stoxx European banking index .SX7P that was buoyed by news that Goldman Sachs' GS.N first-quarter profit beat forecasts.

The NZZ am Sonntag newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying the bank’s staff in Switzerland of 26,400 would be hit hard in a new round of cuts, which could be announced on April 22.

The head of U.S. wealth management informed his 19,000 staff about planned job cuts last week, although it was not clear how many positions were to go, newspapers also reported.

Swiss newspaper Sonntag said last month that the world’s largest wealth manager in terms of assets would cut a further 8,000 jobs, while the Sonntagzeitung weekly speculated that the worst-case scenario could be another 10,000 jobs to go.


UBS managed about 130 billion Swiss francs ($115 billion) in assets in Asia at the end of last year, according to company data. Despite the job cuts, UBS said it will continue to invest in Asia which remains a “strategic priority.”

Many of UBS’s competitors such as Citigroup and Credit Suisse have shed staff in Asia in the last few months as clients stay away from weak markets. Societe Generale last month said it will cut around 10 percent of staff from its private banking arm in Asia excluding Japan.

Meanwhile, Swiss bank Julius Baer BAER.VX said it has hired two senior relationship managers in Singapore from Goldman Sachs and UBS as it expands its business of banking for Asia's rich in spite of the financial crisis.

($1=1.133 Swiss Franc)

Additional reporting by Emma Thomasson in Zurich; Editing by Erica Billingham