Investors long for UBS happy end
Die-hard UBS investors who have stayed with the bank through thick and thin are hoping new boss Oswald Gruebel (sitting) will return the Swiss icon to its former splendour thanks to a bitter medicine of thousands of new layoffs and heavy cost cuts announced on Wednesday.
But their patience is running out.
“The only reason why we are still with UBS is because hope dies last. But if this carries on, we will not tolerate it anymore,” said Blandina Heyne, a UBS investor for seven years, as she and her husband came to attend the bank’s annual general meeting in Zurich.
Both clients and shareholders have turned their back to Switzerland’s largest bank after the crisis forced UBS to post the biggest loss in Swiss corporate history and shares plummeted to historic lows.
Shareholder anger forced former CEO Marcel Rohner to quit in February and chairman Peter Kurer (standing) was giving his last speech on Wednesday before leaving his job after just one year of what some investors say are empty promises.
“When I was little my mother used to read me one of these bedtime stories from the Grimm’s brothers and she said they were the greatest fairytales ever written,” shareholder Rudolph Weber says. “She got it wrong. It was Mr Kurer who wrote the greatest fairytale.”
Gruebel, a no-nonsense German who once turned around UBS’ rival Credit Suisse, told the shareholder assembly the bank would post yet another loss and announced thousands of job cuts.
“I have been with UBS for almost 20 years and never thought they would disappoint me,” said 68-year-old Christina Sutter. “Despite all this talk of crisis I always had the impression that UBS’s “Swissness” gave it a degree of immunity.”
- Josie Cox and Lisa Jucca
(Reuters photo: Arnd Wiegman)