Friday, July 6, 2007

UBS evicts Wuffli in shock UBS shake-up (Times UK)

At 1.22am this morning the Swiss bank said Peter Wuffli was leaving immediately after the board vetoed his succession to chairman

by Miles Costello

Peter Wuffli was last night ousted as chief executive of UBS in a sudden departure that followed a boardroom disagreement over who should take the chairman's job.

His abrupt departure with immediate effect leaves Marcel Ospel, the chairman and his advocate for promotion, intact, but is set to send ripples throughout the world's largest money manager for the wealth and one of the top five international investment banks.

It follows a turbulent period for UBS, which has suffered high profile departures in the US this, including president of the investment bank Ken Moelis. It has also been forced to shut its hedge fund Dillon Read Capital Management after sustaining losses trading US mortgage securities.

"UBS's current chief executive officer, Peter Wuffli, will relinquish all of his functions at UBS and leave the bank," UBS said in a statement released at 1.22am early this morning. It named Marcel Rohner, deputy chief executive and a board member since 2002, as Mr Wuffli's replacement.

Mr Rohner was previously chairman and chief executive of global wealth management and business banking.

The bank did not explain why Mr Wuffli had left without notice and it is not clear whether he will have negotiated a payoff.

However, in a rare public admission that a rift had opened up on the board, UBS admitted there had been a disagreement between Mr Ospel and the rest of the board over succession planning involving Mr Wuffli.

Despite the disagreement, Mr Ospel stays on for another three-year term as chairman.

"A year ago, as part of UBS's systematic management succession planning, Marcel Ospel expressed a wish to initiate a generational change of management at UBS and therefore retire from his function within the foreseeable future," UBS said.

"He also proposed that Peter Wuffli be nominated his successor. After careful evaluation, the board of directors decided not to accept his proposal. It does not view the succession of the [chief executive] to the position of chairman as automatic.

"Instead, the board identifies independently the composition of the leadership team which, in its opinion, suits the bank the best. In this context, it asked Marcel Ospel to serve for at least another term of three years as chairman of the board of directors."

The bank said it was "extremely grateful" to Mr Wuffli for his contribution, "especially to the expansion of the franchise, market position and brand strength".

It said it had decided that "generational change" would only be instituted in operational terms.