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UBS Bd Members Marchionne, Voser To Leave Bank

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

SEPTEMBER 29, 2009

By Goran Mijuk
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

ZURICH (Dow Jones)–UBS AG (UBS) Tuesday said that board members Sergio Marchionne and Peter Voser will leave the bank next year, citing the two managers’ busy schedules at their own companies.

UBS said that Marchionne, who is CEO of Fiat SpA (F.MI) and Chrysler Group LLC, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) CEO Voser both want to focus on their current demanding management positions.

UBS’ next annual general meeting is scheduled April 14, 2010. No replacement has been announced. Neither man was available for comment.

Analysts said the two managers’ resignations were partly expected as UBS’ most pressing problems have been solved during the past few months.

In addition, analysts said both executives face difficult challenges at their own companies as the global recession has hit both the car and oil industry.

Marchionne, who took over the CEO post at Chrysler in June after Fiat bought a 20% stake in the firm, is struggling to turn around the ailing U.S. car producer.

Voser, meanwhile, who took over the CEO post at Shell in July, is orchestrating a major revamp at the Anglo-Dutch oil giant that includes job and cost cuts.

Marchionne, a 57-year-old Canadian and Italian citizen, was elected to UBS’ board in 2007 and was long expected to become chairman after the bank was hit by massive write-downs during the financial crisis, due to his turnaround knowledge.

UBS had to write down around $50 billion in assets during the subprime crisis and needed to tap capital four times, including assistance from the government.

Although the bank has put most of its troubles behind, UBS is expected to suffer a net loss in 2009 because of write-downs but may turn around next year, according to analyst.

UBS itself hasn’t made specific earnings forecast. However, CEO Oswald Gruebel recently said that the bank is on track to turn around.

Voser, a 51-year-old Swiss national, who helped turn around Switzerland-based electrical engineer ABB Ltd (ABB), was also regarded as a potential candidate for UBS’ top job, which was recently filled by former Swiss cabinet member Kaspar Villiger.

“I would like to thank the outgoing board members Sergio Marchionne and Peter Voser for their strong contributions to the management of our firm,” Villiger said.

“With their comprehensive economic and entrepreneurial competence they supported UBS in difficult times and provided significant input to the stabilization and the successful initiation of the turnaround of our company,” Villiger added.

UBS said it will provide information at a later stage regarding candidates to succeed the outgoing board members.

UBS has long been criticized for its relatively weak board that under the reign of ousted chairman Marcel Ospel lacked banking and financial expertise.

Since Ospel’s ouster in 2008, UBS has appointed several high-ranking and experienced financial experts such as former Swiss National Bank member Bruno Gehrig, former Swiss Reinsurance Co (RUKN.VX) Chief Financial Officer Ann Godbehere and David Sidwell, former CFO of Morgan Stanley (MS).

Bank Sarasin analysts Rainer Skierka said the departure of the two managers “will give UBS an opportunity to further boost sector-specific competence and quality of its board composition.”

Bank Vontobel analyst Teresa Nielson, meanwhile, said that the bank is well on track to turn around under the stewardship of Villiger and CEO Gruebel, who was appointed in April.

Company Web site: http://www.ubs.com

-By Goran Mijuk, Dow Jones Newswires, +41 43 443 80 47; [email protected]

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