December 20, 2007 / 9:11 AM / 12 years ago

Shareholder group wants clarity on UBS writedowns

A UBS logo is seen outside a building in central London December 10, 2007. Shareholder advocacy group Ethos urged more clarity from UBS over its subprime losses, increasing pressure on the bank over heavy writedowns which have hammered its share price. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

ZURICH (Reuters) - Shareholder advocacy group Ethos urged more clarity from UBS over its subprime losses, increasing pressure on the bank over heavy writedowns which have hammered its share price.

Ethos — which holds about 60 million Swiss francs’ ($51.95 million) worth of UBS, or 0.05 percent — said it would call for an independent probe if UBS’s answers to a list of questions it has put to the bank were unsatisfactory.

“As a long-term shareholder, we should have guarantees that the causes for the massive writedowns are known with sufficient depth,” Ethos said on Thursday.

The drive towards more disclosure sets the stage for a stormy shareholder meeting in February, at which UBS will seek approval for a capital increase which will result in the sale of 9 percent stake to the Singapore government.

Ethos wanted to know whether UBS had broken any regulation in its recent dealings, and what it had done to improve risk management, it said in a statement.

UBS this month announced $10 billion of fresh sub-prime writedowns, saying it would add 19.4 billion francs to its equity capital through a range of measures.

Ethos is a fund manager and adviser to investors such as pension funds and is an outspoken advocate of shareholder interests, with a focus on sustainability criteria.

Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Quentin Bryar

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