UBS Stung By Adoboli Case (WSJ)
Swiss financial market regulator Finma said it will keep a close eye on UBS’s investment bank for the foreseeable future and may ask it to raise fresh capital, following an investigation into failures that allowed London-based trader Kweku Adoboli to make unauthorized trades. At the same time, the U.K. Financial Services Authority fined UBS £29.7 million ($47.6 million). Mr. Adoboli was convicted of fraud last week and sentenced to a seven-year prison term. “The measures ordered by Finma include capital restrictions and an acquisition ban on the investment bank, and any new business initiative it plans must be approved by Finma,” the regulator said. Finma will also consider “whether UBS must increase capital backing for its operational risks,” will appoint a third party to ensure corrective measures are introduced, and will organize an audit to review the steps taken by UBS. Finma declined to say when the auditing review would be completed or when a decision on a capital increase would be made, though a spokesman said this is likely to be within months rather than years.
SAC Fund Manager Faces Choice of Trial or Deal (Bloomberg)
Martoma, 38, used illegal tips to help SAC make $276 million on shares of pharmaceutical companies Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC, according to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Arrested last week, he is to appear today in Manhattan federal court for masterminding what the U.S. calls the most lucrative insider-trading case ever.
Flowers Foods Sizes Up Hostess (WSJ)
The Thomasville, Ga., company is considered a likely bidder for some of the assets owned by Hostess, which last week was granted permission by a federal bankruptcy-court judge to begin liquidating. The end came after a contentious bankruptcy that began in January and culminated this month in a strike.
Goldman Turns Down Southern Europe Banks as Crisis Lingers (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs, the No. 1 stock underwriter in Europe, turned down roles in offerings by banks in Spain and Italy this year, the only top U.S. securities firm not to take part in the fundraisings by southern European lenders as the region’s debt crisis stretches to a fourth year. The firm declined a role in Banco Popular Espanol SA’s 2.5 billion-euro ($3.2 billion) rights offering this month because it wanted greater protection to avoid potential losses on the sale, two people familiar with the talks said. JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are helping to guarantee the deal. Goldman also didn’t underwrite this year’s share sales by Italy’s UniCredit SpA and Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo SA, which drew Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup.
Knight Seen Getting Acquisition Bids This Week (Bloomberg)
The company with a market value of about $430 million was bailed out by six financial firms in August after losing $457 million in a trading error. Chicago-based Getco LLC, one of the rescuers, and Virtu Financial LLC in New York are among the likely bidders, said the person, who requested anonymity because the negotiations are private. The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 23 that Knight expected offers for its market-making unit.
Woman who rode manatee charged with violating protection act (Sentinel)
A 53-year-old Pinellas County woman was arrested Saturday for violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act by riding a sea cow in the waters near St. Petersburg in September. Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez of St. Petersburg was arrested at her place of employment — Sears at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg — on a warrant issued by the State Attorney’s Office. The charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. The punishment could be a $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail, the Tampa Bay Times said. Gutierrez stepped forward after the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office released photos of a then-unknown woman riding a manatee near Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County on Sept. 30. “Gutierrez admitted to the offense claiming she is new to the area and did not realize it was against the law to touch or harass manatees,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Escrowyou too, judge! (NYP)
Argentina, bruised and battered after a 10-year battle to sidestep billions of dollars in bond payments, is lashing out at US courts and a Manhattan federal court judge. A high-ranking member of Argentina President Cristina Kirchner’s administration terms “judicial imperialism” the Thanksgiving eve ruling by Judge Thomas Griesa that ordered the South American country to place a $1.3 billion bond payment in escrow pending the end of the legal tussle. Kirchner has repeatedly said she would not pay up. Griesa, frustrated with Argentina’s repeated attempts to stall the legal proceedings, sided with New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, whose Elliott Management owns Argentine bonds that were defaulted on back in 2002.
‘Cliff’ Threatens Holiday Spending (WSJ)
The White House warned in a new report that going off the so-called “fiscal cliff” could slow the growth of real gross domestic product by 1.4% and limit consumer spending during the holiday season. The report comes as lawmakers are returning to Washington with just weeks left to find an agreement to prevent taxes from going up on millions and spending cuts from kicking in. It will likely provide fodder for both political parties as they seek to find a compromise.
At Some Firms, Cutting Corporate Rates May Cost Billions (WSJ)
President Barack Obama has said, most recently during last month’s presidential debates, that the 35% U.S. corporate tax rate should be cut. That would mean lower tax bills for many companies. But it also could prompt large write-downs by Citigroup, AIG, Ford and other companies that hold piles of “deferred tax assets,” or DTAs…Citigroup, for instance, acknowledged during its recent third-quarter earnings conference call that a cut in the tax rate could lead to a DTA-related charge of $4 billion to $5 billion against earnings.
Cohen’s General Counsel Gives SAC Boss Cover (NYP)
The sharks of the US Attorney’s office have SAC Capital Advisors surrounded — and owner Steven Cohen is looking a lot like chum. Good thing the billionaire hedgie has a large supply of shark repellent. That would be Peter Nussbaum, SAC’s longtime general counsel who, over his 12 years at the Stamford, Conn., firm, has built up an impressive 30-person compliance department — not including an additional tech compliance team. “Nussbaum is the most respected person at SAC,” said a hedge fund executive not at SAC. “He is going to do what he thinks is best for the firm and not be cowed by anyone.” Nussbaum’s huge compliance department, observers said, was built, in large part, because of the perception that the government was determined to bust Cohen.
Confidential Police Docs Found in Macy’s Parade Confetti (WPIX)
Confidential personal information is what some paradegoers found among confetti tossed during the world’s most famous parade. That information included social security numbers and banking information for police employees, some of whom are undercover officers. Ethan Finkelstein, who was home from college on Thanksgiving break, was watching the parade at 65th Street and Central Park West, when he and a friend noticed a strip of confetti stuck onto her coat. “It landed on her shoulder,” Finkelstein told PIX11 News, “and it says ‘SSN’ and it’s written like a social security number, and we’re like, ‘That’s really bizarre.’ It made the Tufts University freshman concerned, so he and his friends picked up more of the confetti that had fallen around them. “There are phone numbers, addresses, more social security numbers, license plate numbers and then we find all these incident reports from police.” One confetti strip indicates that it’s from an arrest record, and other strips offer more detail. “This is really shocking,” Finkelstein said. “It says, ‘At 4:30 A.M. a pipe bomb was thrown at a house in the Kings Grant’ area.” A closer look shows that the documents are from the Nassau County Police Department. The papers were shredded, but clearly not well enough.
In terms of speaking gigs, do you want to hear from the guy who cost UBS a couple billion or the fugitive who brought it to its knees?
Book excerpt: Adam Baldwin’s “Heroes and Villains of Finance” is a fascinating dive into the history of money as an institution, highlighting the fifty most significant figures that, rightly or wrongly, are responsible for the financial landscape we live in today.
The investigation, being conducted by economic-crimes prosecutors in Mannheim, was started in March against unnamed employees after a tax inquiry in the southwestern state of Baden Wuerttemberg identified suspicious transfers of funds from Germany to Switzerland, allegedly executed by a German taxpayer with the assistance of the Frankfurt-based office of UBS Deutschland AG…In May, prosecutors seized more than 100,000 computer files and other records during a search of the bank’s Frankfurt office, Mr. Lintz said. Tax investigators are assessing this material to identify evidence that bank officials acted as accessories to tax evasion, he said.
In its statement, UBS Deutschland said that “an internal investigation into the specific allegations has not identified any evidence of misbehavior by UBS Deutschland AG.” It said it is cooperating with the criminal investigation. Several investigations of UBS clients in Germany are under way by local prosecutors independent of the Mannheim investigation, Mr. Lintz said. He declined to say how many clients are under investigation. A report in the Thursday edition of German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten said thousands of bank clients are under investigation. Mr. Lintz declined to confirm that figure.
Remember last week when UBS called New York based employees the day after Hurricane Sandy to tell them they no longer had a job, and communicated the same news to London-based staff by deactivating their ID cards and cutting off their email access? The bank is hoping everyone is at the point where they can laugh about all that, as apparently management got a bit overzealous with its firings– these things happen in the heat of the moment– and actually let go of a few too many people, who are now being offered their jobs back.
UBS has brought back several employees who were put on leave when it unveiled a drastic pullback from fixed income last week, and more could follow, sources familiar with the situation said. The Swiss bank stopped dozens of traders from reaching their desks in London last Tuesday, when it unveiled an exit from most of its rates and bond trading businesses in a strategic overhaul that will lead to 10,000 global layoffs. The bankers were placed on special leave until further notice, while in the United States UBS fired several fixed-income employees by phone. UBS has already brought back a small handful of employees who were on leave, two people familiar with the matter said. It could also ask more to return or rehire some where needed, said three other sources, including UBS insiders, adding that some desks were now too thinly staffed to operate properly, if they were desks the bank ultimately wanted to keep going.
No hard feelings?
UBS takes back some traders on leave amid overhaul [Reuters]
Earlier: UBS Takes Swift Action On Job Cuts; Layoffs Watch ’12: UBS Tells Employees Not To Bother Themselves With Figuring Out How To Get Into Work (Ever Again)
Difference is, UBS is the only one that’s faced facts already, ’cause they’re consistently ahead of the curve like that. Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, all those other guys will get a cold hard dose of reality sooner or later, though, and when they do they’ll say, “Damn! UBS was all over this!”
A day after UBS AG announced it was cutting up to 10,000 jobs by 2015, UBS chairman Axel Weber is warning that many of the Swiss banking giant’s rivals may have to follow suit…“I suspect that many banks have not yet really understood what the consequences of the new capital rules for business will be when they come into full effect in 2019,” Weber was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s edition of the German daily Handelsblatt. “We, on the other hand, see this new world very clearly,” he said. “Besides that, Swiss rules commit us to even higher own capital demands than the 10 percent capital quota that Basel III orders.”
A thing we sometimes do here is hold ad hoc seminars in reading press releases […]
Earlier this week, before a natural disaster struck the East Coast, UBS announced that it would essentially be getting out of the investment banking business and focusing its energy on wealth management, letting go of approximately 10,000 employees as it transitioned back to its tax evading roots. That was Monday morning, and while the bank had said that it planned to start cuts on Tuesday, most people assumed that the Swiss would wait at least 24 hours between the time Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy told residents to seek safety from the storm on their roofs, or power for the many who lost it was restored, to can a bunch of staff. Those people, however, thought wrong. Apparently when UBS decides to do something, neither wind nor rain nor is gonna stop them.
UBS is set to unveil a radical downsizing of its struggling investment bank next week in a move that will prompt the loss of up to 10,000 jobs across the Swiss banking group. Switzerland’s largest bank by assets will significantly shrink the trading side and complexity of its investment bank and as a consequence also cut thousands of jobs in its back office over the next few years, three people close to the situation said. The job cuts will amount to almost a sixth of the bank’s workforce of 63,500 at the end of June. They will not happen all at once and the precise number is still unclear… It comes on top of another – still ongoing – programme announced last year to cut 3,500 jobs. The new strategy, hammered out in several executive board meetings in New York this week and set to be announced next Tuesday, will lead to the closure of a sizeable part of UBS’s fixed-income trading operations and other capital-intensive areas of the investment bank.
As those of you keeping up with the many trials and travails of UBS know, the last couple years have been fairly brutal for investment banking chief Carsten Kengeter. Pre-tax IBD profit was down 55 percent YoY through June, employees are constantly on his ass about getting paid, the comments he made in attempt to “rally the troops” re: “slashing expenses like a Jewish shopkeeper” were totally taken in the wrong way, some guy perpetrated a $2 billion fraud (which was partially to blame for CK getting passed over for the promotion he was gunning for), and to top it all off, the higher-ups actually accepted his offer to forgo a bonus for 2011, which he would never have put out there if he thought they’d actually go for it. And now, as a thanks for all his hard work, management is publicly mulling the idea of lightening his load and paycheck.
UBS is weighing a shakeup at the top of its investment bank that would give a reduced role to Carsten Kengeter and increased responsibilities to his co-head Andrea Orcel, three people with knowledge of the matter said. The board is meeting in New York today to consider a reorganization of the unit that will include cuts centered on the fixed-income operations that Kengeter has been responsible for since 2008, said the people, who asked not to be identified before the matter is made public. An announcement may come when UBS reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 30, they said…Three senior executives who declined to speak publicly said they expect Kengeter to leave the bank before long. A person with knowledge of Kengeter’s thinking said he doesn’t plan to go. A UBS official declined to comment.
Ermotti told staff in a memo this month he’ll take “all actions necessary” to tackle the “paradigm shift” in banking and will continue “remodeling” UBS. He said in July that the market environment has completely changed since the bank announced reorganization plans for the securities unit in November.
Cuts are said to have gone down at the Swiss bank yesterday, with more thought to be a’ coming.
From the front lines:
“Massive cuts at UBS west coast IBD offices yesterday– 50 percent headcount reductions in both LA and San Fransisco, from MDs down to admins. HR was flown in to do the job. Rumor is that LA and SF office will be closed down completely next year. There were also some cuts in NYC, in FIG and TMT.”
is embarking on a new round of job cuts within its investment bank, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Swiss bank grapples with a downturn in business that shows few signs of abating and considers a further restructuring of the division. UBS will begin notifying employees Wednesday of a new round of job cuts totaling roughly 400, the people said. Additional job losses that could run into the thousands may quickly follow. According to one of the people, there is a “good probability” that when UBS discloses its third-quarter results next Tuesday, it will make clear which businesses it intends to focus on in the years to come, and which ones it will de-emphasize…This week’s jobs cut will be spread roughly evenly across North America, Europe and Asia, one of the people said. They will fall more or less evenly on fixed-income trading, equity trading and corporate finance, although the latter will bear slightly more of the brunt than the former two divisions.
While these job cuts are mainly mean to cut costs, they are also part of a plan to cull the worst performers from the investment bank’s ranks and create room for it to hire more-promising talent, one of the people said.
UBS Plans More Job Cuts [WSJ]
John Hughes, the former senior trader on the ETF desk, said Adoboli told him in […]
In Southwark Crown Court in London, the boyish-looking Mr. DiBacco was cross-examined for more than […]
Adoboli lawyer Charles Sherrard said the bank became “more aggressive in terms of its desire […]
UBS is said to be embarking on a “fresh round of cuts” in the investment bank, starting with the team in Europe.
UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, plans to cut about 80 to 90 jobs in its European investment- banking division as part of a global revamp, according to two people familiar with the matter. The cutbacks, which are likely to take place before year- end, would amount to about 17 percent of staff within the region’s investment-banking division and include junior and senior bankers, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The division includes merger advisory and equity and debt capital markets. The reductions probably will kick off a fresh round of job cuts within the broader investment bank, which includes UBS’s fixed-income and equities units, said the people.
UBS, the Swiss bank, was aware of problems with Kweku Adoboli’s trading five weeks before […]
“Regards”? “Best wishes”? “Very yours truly”? “Sincerely”? “All the best”? “Love”? “Again, really sorry”? “Well I guess I’ll take off now”? “It’s been a pleasure working with you”? “TTYL”? “Keep in touch”? Kweku Adoboli, UBS’s alleged rogue trader, who does sound genuinely sorry for the “shit storm” he brought on the bank, went with “thanks.”
Via the FT:
It is with great stress that I write this mail. First of all the ETF [exchange traded funds] trades that you see on the ledger are not trades that I have done with a counterparty as I have previously described.
I used the bookings as a way to suppress the PnL losses that I accrued through off book trades that I made. Those trades were previously profit making, became loss making as the market sold off aggressively through the aggressive sell-off days of July and early August. Initially, I had been short futures through June and those lost money when the first Greek confidence vote went through in mid June.
In order to try and make the money back I flipped the trade long through the rally. Although I had a couple of opportunities to unwind the long trade for negligible loss, I did not move quickly enough for the market weakness on the back of the first back macro data and then an escalation eurozone crisis cost me the losses you will see when the ETF bookings are cancelled. The aim had been to try and make the money back before the September expiry date came through but I clearly failed.
These are still live trades on the book that will need to be unwound. Namely a short position in DAX futures [which had been rolled to December expiry] and a short position in S&P500 futures that are due to expire on Friday.
I have now left the office for the sake of discretion. I will need to come back in to discuss the positions and explain face to face, but for reasons that are obvious, I did not think it wise to stay on the desk this afternoon.
I will expect that questions will be asked as to why nobody was aware of these trades. The reality is that I have maintained that these were EFP [exchange for physical] trades to the member of my team, BUC [the accounts department], trade support and John Di Bacco.
I take responsibility for my actions and the shit storm that will now ensue. I am deeply sorry to have left this mess for everyone and to have put my bank and my colleagues at risk.
According to [Crown Prosecution Service’s Sasha] Wass, William Steward, an accountant in the UBS back […]
Cuts are said to be coming in the near-ish future.
“More layoffs are expected to take place within the next 2-3 weeks with at least 10pct cuts across the board in sales, research and trading. Morale has reached a new all-time low (hard to imagine it could become lower?) and at this point many have the attitude that if they get out now at least they’ll get a package out of it.”
Remember Bradley Birkenfeld? He’s the guy who single-handedly made the U.S. government’s case against UBS and forced the Swiss bank to hand over the names of thousands of tax cheats, which resulted in the US scoring $780 million from UBS and may have inspired some 33,000 Americans to “voluntarily disclose offshore accounts to the IRS, generating more than $5 billion.” And yet, despite his assistance, Birkenfeld wasn’t immediately thanked for a job well done. Instead, he was sentenced to forty months in prison (fair-ish, considering he showed a few clients how to avoid paying taxes himself) and told to piss off by the Internal Revenue Service, from whom he sought an award, because he was “not forthcoming about his own role in the scheme,” even as a Justice Department attorney admitted that “…without Mr. Birkenfeld walking into the door of the Department of Justice in the summer of 2007, I doubt as of today that this massive fraud would have been discovered by the US government” (or as his lawyer put it, “They didn’t know how to spell UBS until he showed up. He didn’t just give them a piece of the puzzle. He gave them the entire puzzle”). Now, after doing 32 months at Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution, getting let out early on account of “good-time credit,” and living in a halfway house in New Hampshire, Birkenfeld has finally been thrown a bone.
Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS AG banker who told the Internal Revenue Service how the bank helped thousands of Americans evade taxes, secured an IRS award of $104 million, an amount his lawyers said may be the largest ever for a U.S. whistle-blower. Birkenfeld told authorities how UBS bankers came to the U.S. to woo rich Americans, managed $20 billion of their assets, and helped them cheat the IRS. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2008, a year after reporting the bank’s conduct to the Justice Department, U.S. Senate, IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission. He was released from prison Aug. 1…Birkenfeld, 47, worked at Zurich-based UBS, the largest Swiss bank, for five years. He sought a reward from the IRS of as much as 30 percent of any taxes the agency recovered as a result of his whistle-blowing activities.
Clearly this whole thing should stir up a few questions inside you all, chief among them: how much money would it take to get you to befriend or get yourself employed with some rogue people so you can blow the whistle on them? Would you do any time for it? If so, how much? And are we talking Club Fed or a place where your roommate spoons you every night?
Fewer bodies, more often.
“UBS now performs rolling layoffs instead of going in rounds. Each mini-round is therefore less newsworthy. Normally this kind of thing destroys morale but there’s no morale left to destroy at this point. How frequent are they? Equities had 4 rounds in 3 weeks in April(ish). Previously you would see every group get hit at once, no more than a couple times a year.”
Things could be better in Europe.
Big investment banks in Europe, including Nomura, Credit Suisse and UBS, are stepping up plans to cut jobs as they seek to adapt to a drastic slowdown in revenues and tighter regulation. Bank executives, headhunters and analysts say that the cuts are shaping up as the deepest since the start of the financial crisis after a disappointing summer dashed hopes of a business revival. One senior headhunter said many large investment banks will have “at least 20 per cent” fewer staff in capital markets and M&A advisory business in Europe by the end of the year compared with late 2011. “It [the market] has never been as bad as this. Bankers have long lost confidence in their banks but now they are also losing their self-confidence, their mojo,” a senior advisory banker said.
Among the banks that will reduce their investment banking workforce is Japan’s Nomura, where London-based bankers say that they expect several hundred jobs to be removed in Europe alone as part of a $1bn cost-cutting effort. Switzerland’s largest bank UBS, which cut staff levels earlier than rivals by announcing 2,000 job cuts in the investment bank after a $2.3bn unauthorised trading loss last year, is preparing for intensified cuts as it is seeking to streamline further the unit, several people familiar with the situation said. At Credit Suisse, insiders estimate that the additional SFr1bn ($1bn) in groupwide cuts that were announced in July will translate into up to 1,000 jobs being lost, most of which would be in the investment bank. Analysts expect also Deutsche Bank and Barclays to reduce their headcount further this year. Deutsche said two months ago it would reduce staff levels by 1,900.
“UBS is delaying return offers to summer analysts in S&T from late August to God-knows-when. Reason provided: “It’s difficult to bring key decision makers together due to 2-weekers [taking their mandatory vacation]”
Numbers for first and second year analysts (who are not happy).
“It’s been two weeks since UBS numbers came out and nobody wants to talk about it, for obvious reasons. Second years (base: 80k) ranging 45-65k and heard of some first years getting around 40k (base: 70k). And they could only achieve these numbers (“in line with the street”) after firing 30+ analysts right before communication day.”
Investment banks are in large part in the business of creating and selling products to […]