Daily Telegraph: UBS to hold talks with ex-president
By Philip Aldrick
Last Updated: 1:30am BST 08/04/2008
Swiss banking giant UBS has agreed to meet its former president, Luqman Arnold, to discuss his plan to break up the group and install a new chairman, following its record-breaking $37.1bn (Â£16.6bn) of sub-prime writedowns.
Vice-chairman Sergio Marchionne will meet Mr Arnold, who left the bank in 2001 and is calling for a major strategic overhaul through his investment vehicle Olivant, before UBS shareholders gather at the annual meeting on April 23.
Mr Arnold wants a boardroom seat left open for a new chairman at the meeting, because a suitable candidate is unlikely to be found in the next fortnight, and is requesting that one of the 12 current supervisory directors step down to accommodate his demands.
UBS confirmed it would meet Mr Arnold, but declined yesterday to add anything other than: “We will respond in due course.”
Mr Arnold has called for incoming chairman Peter Kurer, an internal candidate who is replacing Marcel Ospel, to take the role on a temporary basis only. He wants the board to search for a director of âabsolute independenceâ, who is a “Swiss national” or someone seen as such “to deal with what is a national crisis”.
Mr Arnold, who blames the banks woes on corporate governance shortfalls, has ruled himself out. Bankers say Josef Ackermann, Deutsche Banks chairman, is the clear frontrunner. However, he wants to remain with Deutsche until 2010.
Mr Arnold, with a 0.7pc stake in UBS, has questioned its integration of wealth management with investment banking and wants the investment bank separately incorporated in London or New York. He has called for SFr15bn (£7.5bn) of disposals and more detail on a planned separate SFr15 rights issue, underwritten by JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs.
Quote from recent Wall Street Journal article:
It’s hard to make a case to someone wealthy that you can manage their money well when you’ve just lost $37 billion yourself, said Dirk Hoffmann-Becking, an analyst at Bernstein Research in London.
Quote from recent Financial Times article:
HSH Nordbank says alleged “fraudulent acts and wilful breaches of duty” by UBS led to a $275m fall in the value of a portfolio of credit derivatives sold to it and managed by the Swiss bank, according to a lawsuit filed in the US.
Comment by John Donovan of www.royaldutchshellplc.com:
The involvement of Peter Voser in the financial crisis at USB does not bode well for any ambition on his part to become CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Plc when Jeroen van der Veer retires in June next year.
Comment by John Donovan in another recent article:
“*ROYAL DUTCH SHELL CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER PETER VOSER HAS BEEN A DIRECTOR SINCE APRIL 2005 OF THIS SCANDAL HIT BANK WHICH IS IN A DEEP FINANCIAL CRISIS: HE IS A MEMBER OF THE UBS BOARD FACING MOUNTING CRITICISM OVER FAILURE TO IDENTITY HUGE EXPOSURE AND ITS SUBSEQUENT MISHANDLING OF THE CRISIS”
FT comment in same article:
Mr Ospel, who has faced mounting criticism over his and the boards failure to identify the banks huge exposure and its subsequent handling of the crisis, will be replaced by Peter Kurer, UBS’s general counsel.