Sitting tight at UBS

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You'd think UBS would be finding it hard to hang on to people: a first-quarter loss of US$12bn, writedowns of US$19bn and job cuts in Europe - including the chairman himself, Marcel Ospel. The strange thing is, no one seems to want to get out of there.

Recruiters, whose inboxes are usually crammed with CVs when institutions show signs of cracking, say the only thing to come out of UBS so far has been a deafening silence.

"I haven't seen any [UBS CVs]," says Ian McAlpine, Sydney director of search firm Perceptor.

"No! Not a thing," says Simon Moylan at Hudson in Melbourne.

The silence is at odds with a few high profile exits from the Swiss bank since the depths of its problems became apparent. Defectors to date include Robert McGregor, an executive director in UBS's industrial investment banking team, John Sturmey, formerly head of equity syndicate for UBS in the Asia-Pacific region, and Sakhi Siva, formerly UBS's chief Asian market strategist.

Remaining employees' willingness to sit it out might have something to do with the fact that UBS remains resolutely upbeat about its prospects in Australia: "We're still hiring - selectively," Brad Orgill, CEO of UBS Australia and New Zealand, told us.

Tim Beach at recruiter Robert Walters says UBS's Australian business has been so successful (it ranked 1st for M&A in the first quarter with a 42% market share, according to Thomson Financial) that its current travails are unlikely to drive people away overnight: "It has such a strong market position in Sydney that 12 months ago it was the employer of choice. The crunch has obviously had some effect on morale, but most banks are trying to quarantine Asia Pacific from their troubles because it remains a growth area."

But look out if you're a contractor. One recruiter, who didn't want to be named, says UBS is slashing its contractor budget. "There is no money: they are not renewing contracts, and the first to go are the dearest. It's bad. But Citi is worse ... I'm seeing résumés from Citi all the time."

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