UBS said early Saturday that CEO Oswald Grübel resigned from the bank and has been replaced in the interim by Sergio Ermotti, a veteran Merrill Lynch executive. Meanwhile, industry speculation regarding the fate of its U.S. operations continues, though UBS says it is not selling any of wealth-management units.
The change in leadership at the top of the Swiss bank comes less than one week after London-based UBS trader Kweku Adoboli was arrested and charged with fraud and false accounting for a $2.3 billion loss. He is now in jail.
“The board regrets Oswald Grübel’s decision,” said UBS Chairman Kaspar Villiger in a press release. “Oswald Grübel feels that it is his duty to assume responsibility for the recent unauthorized trading incident … During his tenure [since February 2009], he achieved an impressive turnaround and strengthened UBS fundamentally. He steps down having helped make UBS one of the world’s best capitalized banks. On behalf of the board of directors, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to him for everything he has done for UBS.”
“I would like to thank Sergio Ermotti for taking over the interim leadership of UBS,” Villiger added. “With his extensive industry experience and together with the executive leadership team he will continue to implement UBS’s strategic alignment.”
UBS appointed Ermotti chairman and CEO of UBS Group Europe, Middle East and Africa in April 2011. From 2007 to 2010, he was UniCredit Group’s deputy CEO with responsibility for the strategic business areas and banking.
Between 2001 and 2003, he served as co-head of global equity markets and as a member of the executive management committee for Merrill Lynch’s Global Markets & Investment Banking. He began his career with Merrill Lynch in 1987.
Ermotti, 51, is a Swiss-certified banking expert, a graduate of the advanced management program at Oxford University and a Swiss citizen.
UBS’ board of directors plans to continue an internal and external evaluation process to find a permanent successor as group CEO, according to Saturday morning’s press release.
“The board is deeply disappointed by the recent loss arising from unauthorized trading. It will fully support the independent investigation and will ensure that mitigating measures are implemented to prevent such an incident from recurring,” the company said in a statement.