Sunday, June 23, 2024
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UBS revealed on Thursday that it would restructure its top wealth management position as part of an executive board overhaul, assigning new roles to two prominent contenders poised to potentially lead the Swiss bank after CEO Sergio Ermotti.

Rob Karofsky, currently the head of UBS’s investment bank, will transition in July to the role of head of the Americas and co-president of global wealth management alongside Iqbal Khan, the current wealth management chief. Khan will also assume responsibility for the Asia-Pacific region, relocating there from September 1. Both Khan and Karofsky are viewed as leading internal candidates to succeed Ermotti, who could remain in his position until at least 2027, according to the bank’s indications.

Vontobel analyst Andreas Venditti characterized the reshuffle as more extensive than anticipated, noting that Khan and Karofsky are now prime candidates for the CEO position.

Ermotti emphasized that the new appointments underscore UBS’s long-term priorities and growth prospects, particularly in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions. The bank’s strategy reportedly revolves around promoting internal candidates for leadership roles, as indicated by Ermotti’s past approach when he last departed UBS in 2020.

Beatriz Martin, currently serving as president of UBS Europe, Middle East, and Africa, is also seen as a potential successor to Ermotti.

UBS made these announcements ahead of the merger of its main parent companies with Credit Suisse, which is scheduled to be legally completed on Friday. The integration process will involve complex stages such as IT system integration, client migration from Credit Suisse, and streamlining the combined workforce, which exceeds 110,000 employees.

As part of the restructuring, Ulrich Koerner, former CEO of Credit Suisse, will retire from UBS later this year. Additionally, George Athanasopoulos and Marco Valla will be appointed co-presidents of the investment bank, effective July 1. Damian Vogel will assume the role of risk officer from Christian Bluhm, who will transition to an advisory capacity.

UBS Americas President Naureen Hassan will step down effective July 1, joining a number of female executives who have departed the bank in the past year.

In a separate development, the Swiss finance ministry disclosed that it had fined UBS 50,000 Swiss francs for failing to report suspected money laundering linked to Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president of Yemen who passed away in 2017. The case pertained to transactions conducted by Saleh after he opened an account with UBS in 2004. UBS has not yet responded to requests for comment on the matter.

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