Wednesday 24 January 2018

UBS staff discover plan to sack 10,000 as swipe cards fail to let them into work

Sergio Ermotti, chief executive officer of UBS, addressing a news conference at the bank's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Sergio Ermotti, chief executive officer of UBS, addressing a news conference at the bank's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

Peter Flanagan and Katharina Bart

SWISS bank UBS has unveiled plans to fire 10,000 staff and immediately moved to wind down its fixed income business in London, laying off hundreds of staff.

The cuts began immediately in London, where about 6,500 employees work in fixed income for UBS. This covers securities such as options, futures and rate derivatives.

A number of staff apparently discovered they had lost their jobs when their identity cards did not work as they tried to get into the office.

Others made it into the building, only to be directed to a holding room, where they were handed their belongings and escorted off the premises. Some senior staff were greeted with a letter at their desks, informing them that they were no longer required.


A number of UBS staffers took to social media to air their frustration after dozens of traders were stopped from entering the bank's London offices.

Several tweeters revived 'U've Been Sacked', an invented acronym for UBS which circulated in 1998 after the bank had fired hundreds of staff following the merger of the two big Swiss banks which formed today's UBS.

Zurich-based UBS will focus on wealth-management and a smaller investment bank, ditching much of the trading business that ran up $50bn (€32.5bn) in losses and is embroiled in a global LIBOR rate-fixing investigation.

Chief executive Sergio Ermotti, a former Merrill Lynch and UniCredit banker, is leading the three-year overhaul aimed at saving 3.4bn Swiss francs (€2.9bn), on top of cuts of 2bn francs announced last year.

Investment bank co-head Carsten Kengeter leaves Mr Ermotti's top team to lead the winding-down of fixed-income activities that are no longer profitable due to stricter capital rules on riskier business that were introduced after the crisis.

The remaining investment bank, which handles equities, foreign-exchange trading, corporate advice and precious-metals trading, will be run by Andrea Orcel, a recent Ermotti hiree from Bank of America, who had co-run the unit with Kengeter.

"Change is necessary for the entire banking industry," Mr Ermotti wrote in a memo to staff. "By acting now, we are getting ahead of our competitors and reshaping our business so that it can deliver sustainable results over the long term."

The measures translate to a 15pc staff cut, taking UBS's overall staff to 54,000, down from 63,745. Its staff was already down from a 2007 peak of 83,500 as banks have shed tens of thousands of jobs globally. (Additional reporting by Reuters)

Irish Independent

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