Red flags and red ink were the backdrop to the annual shareholders’ meeting at UBS, Switzerland’s biggest and most battered bank.Investors, who were bracing for more bad news as they headed into the bank’s annual general meeting in Zurich, had to run the gauntlet of Young Socialists calling on them to sign a petition against the bank’s latest round of job cuts. But inside the new boss, Oswald Gruebel, told them slashing more staff is an essential part of UBS’ recovery. He added: “It’s going to be a long road back to success. And we can’t expect any quick fixes to extricate ourselves, but we will get over this crisis, one step at a time, and in a determined and disciplined way.” Announcing an estimated first quarter loss of the equivalent of 1.3 billion euros Gruebel said another 8,700 jobs will go by the end of next year. The union reaction was muted. Denise Chervet of the Swiss banking employees association said: “We note that a significant effort has been made to reduce costs, particular at the management level, by eliminating certain privileges which were absolutely not appropriate given the current crisis. So, we welcome that effort without which they would have had to lay off even more people.” UBS also said that clients have continued to withdraw their money from the bank following its decision to cooperate more closely with US and other governments over tax evasion.
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