Losses of $13.7bn aren’t a great look for UBS, especially with some analysts predicting more write-downs in 2008.
Globally, jobs at the Swiss-based bank are on the line, with 1,500 cut at the investment bank in the months leading up to Christmas, and the possibility of more to come.
Does this include Australia, where UBS ranked number one as the leading M&A advisor in 2007? Apparently not: the official word is that local jobs are safe.
Stuart Barton, a spokesperson for UBS Australia, says: “There’s nothing going on. The Australian operation is very successful. In 2007, UBS had a record year with a high level of M&A activity and equity capital raisings.”
The company line on cutbacks is at odds with the view of a leading Melbourne-based headhunter, who says the bank has less time than it used to for unproductive staff in Aus. Caan Krsztew-Ivanow, a senior search consultant at Melbourne-based financial services specialist Graeme V. Jones & Associates, says, “UBS is trying to make sure they have the most effective teams there.”
“It’s still a great place to work, has a very good brand name, and other investment bankers are still keen to move to UBS.”
However the word on the street at UBS as well as Merrills and Citigroup, according to an unnamed source, is that there are plenty of local bankers who are disgruntled at carrying the can for overseas sub-prime bungling.
“Morale at UBS is not as positive as it could be and there are concerns about what future cutbacks are in store, as well as bonuses. From UBS and most offshore investment banks there will be quite a few people coming out into the market place [in February]. My phone rang hot in December,” says one headhunter.