• 12 Aug 2008 at 8:43 AM
  • UBS

UBS Takes A $5.1 Billion Write-Down

If you didn’t get the message from JP Morgan’s $1.5 billion write-down that the carnage on Wall Street is not over, UBS trumpeted it from the Swiss Alps this morning with the announcement that it had written down another $5.1 billion in mortgage loans and other debt instruments. For those keeping track at home, the global write downs from the credit crisis now amount to around $500 billion.
UBS also said it is backing off plans to integrate its three main business units, wealth management, asset management and investment banking. This move is widely understood as a reaction to pressure from US regulators and lawmakers who have charged the Swiss bank with aiding clients in tax dodges. Giving the units more autonomy may be the first step in spinning them off entirely, a move that might allow UBS to continue its investment banking business in the US if lawmakers continue their chase after its wealth management unit.

UBS Losses Greater Than Expected
[New York Times]

Ben Lorello, head of UBS Healthcare, has supposedly started taking attendance and “demanded” that everyone, even MDs, be in at 9 a.m. or be marked late (“even one minute late”).

  • 30 May 2008 at 9:58 AM
  • UBS

UBS Banker Helping Feds Nab Tax Dodgers

We always thought that helping wealthy people avoid taxes was what Swiss banks were supposed to do. But it turns out that the government doesn’t agree. And now they’ve turned one of the Swiss gnomes into an informant.
Bradley Birkenfeld, who worked for UBS’s private banking division, is expected to plead guilty at a hearing on June 9th. Specifically, he’ll admit to helping a real-estate mogul evade taxes. Earlier Birkenfeld had pleaded not guilty after he was indicted as part of the US government’s probe into whether UBS helped clients evade taxes.
Birkenfeld guilty plea is probably a signal that he is helping prosecutors identify other UBS customers who hid assets to escape paying taxes. In other news, if you are a UBS client with lots of secret money stashed away in the Alps, you might want to reschedule your New York City shopping trip.
Former UBS Banker to Plead Guilty in U.S. Tax Case [Bloomberg]

Most of the $37 million in investments for which UBS agreed to reimburse Massachusetts municipalities last week came from one small office within UBS known as the Flynn Financial Group, named for the group’s head, 42 year old Timothy P. Flynn, the Boston Globe is reporting.
Flynn, who grew up in western Massachusetts, has built a business of advising small-town local New England governments on investments and cash-mangement.
“He is UBS in Massachusetts,” one local treasurer tells the Globe.
With Flynn acting as an advisor, many local treasurers bought auction-rate securities. After the market for these securities went into deep-freeze, Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley argued that the investments were barred under state laws which require localities to invest cash only in the safest investments. Last week, as part of its settlement with the attorney general, UBS agreed that the investments were illegal.
Perhaps surprisingly, the local treasurers are defending the decision to investment in auction rate securities and Flynn’s advice. Some even seem to have understood the market for auction rate securities well-enough to pull out before the auctions began to fail. Others, however, found that their cash was trapped in the suddenly illiquid securities. They may have been misled when UBS labeled the securities “cash management” products.
Tim Flynn couldn’t be reached for comment.
Same broker tied investors to UBS [Boston Globe]

  • 13 May 2008 at 9:02 AM
  • Layoffs

Layoff Watch 08: Round Two Of UBS Cuts

Another round of layoffs at UBS is underway today, according to a person familiar with the situation. The asset management and wealth management units are said to be on the chopping block. Investment banking is also expecting cuts.
Oddly enough, the municipal bond unit, which is reportedly set to be shuttered by UBS, has been asked to “hold on” as the bank attempts to see if there are any buyers for the business, according to our source.
UBS could not immediately be reached for comment on the job cuts.

Despite being told by shareholders in general to hit the bricks and by one in particular (Salvatore Cordello, real name) that he’d turned the bank into a “casino,” Marcel Ospel (proverbially) chained himself to the front door of UBS this morning, where he vowed to remain until this so-called “financial crisis” is over. Ospel also made it clear that he’s not in this to make friends (telling the crowd of 6,500, “Popularity isn’t the benchmark by which I or the board of directors measure our actions”), nor is he in this to make money (“As you probably already know, results aren’t the benchmark by which I or the board of directors measure our actions, either”) a motto the sources in our head tell us he ripped off from Stan O’Neal. Though he chose not to offer any specs on how exactly he plans to put this Swiss bank back together again (we’re hoping for more write-offs, that shit’s adorable), Ospel promised to make sure “UBS gets back on the road to success, right after this rousing game of Trader Face or O-Face.”
UBS Chairman Focuses on Turnaround [WSJ]
Trader Face or O-Face? [Details]

  • 25 Feb 2008 at 11:52 AM
  • UBS

German Bank Flummoxed By Swiss Bank’s Selfish Ways

Germany’s HSH Nordbank plans to sue UBS over losses on a $500 million CDO portfolio, accusing Marcel Ospel’s bank of violating fiduciary responsibilities by selling, instead of low risk assets, shitty, high risk ones. The Krauts, crying into their steins, complained that “that the world’s largest asset manager…appears to have condoned actions which benefitted only itself,” which is something that hardly ever happens at these places. On the bright side, UBS shareholders can finally be pleased with management for making a decision that benefitted UBS.
HSH Nordbank sues UBS over exposure to sub-prime danger [Times Online]

ubs.pngOur favorite Swiss bank lost a ton o’ money and now a few people are saying layoffs are on the way, two of whom are employees hoping a last second admission of boyhood crushes on Adolf will save their asses (it would help if they could get their hands on a copy of a little indie porno called “Hitler Sucks,” which actually casts the guy in a pretty flattering light). Another soldier in Marcel Rohner’s employ sees things differently, asking, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but UBS really doesn’t fire anyone (‘cept Jews). I mean look at our losses and layoffs comped to ml, ms, etc.” Love the detached confidence, which should serve him well down at the unemployment office. Either way I think you should a. Keep us abreast of the situation and b. Check out this musical clip, which I think might help thing a little if not a lot.

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