The head of Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, has unexpectedly quit. Chief executive Peter Wuffli is to be replaced by his deputy, Marcel Rohner.
The resignation follows declining earnings and major losses at one of its hedge funds, Dillon Read, which has to be closed after losing 220 million euros. There was also criticism of rising expenses.
Wuffli will leave immediately and UBS is saying little about the reasons for his sudden resignation. But the bank’s figures had trailed those of its rivals. In the third quarter of 2006 profit fell 23% compared with the same period a year earlier. Profit was down 48% in the final quarter of 2006 and was 7% lower in the first three months of this year.
Wuffli’s replacement, Marcel Rohner, also heads the group’s global wealth-management and business-banking division.
The bank’s chairman Marcel Ospel told reporters in a conference call that there had been “no disagreement on strategy” before Wuffli was removed.
Some UBS critics had said that the bank should consider breaking up the company, getting out of investment banking and focusing entirely on wealth and investment management. The chairman dismissed that idea.
He also suggested the business is performing well and that UBS expects to announce good results for the second quarter.