Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

UBS boss sets out turnaround plan

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UBS lost $50bn from sub-prime related investments

The chief executive of Swiss bank UBS says he wants the firm to make profits of $15bn in three to five years' time.

Oswald Gruebel is in charge of turning the bank around after record losses from the sub-prime crisis and a tax row with the US.

He said the plan was a "revolution", adding "if it was easy I would not be here". Mr Gruebel was persuaded out of early retirement to join the bank.

It was his first strategic presentation since he took over in February.

He has already cut 7,500 jobs and sold the firm's Brazilian unit Pactual.

UBS was one of the banks hardest hit by the sub-prime crisis and was forced to write off $50bn in sub-prime related losses. That led to a record loss of $20.7bn last year.

Mr Gruebel said: "There will be three guiding principles: reputation, integration, execution... we want to ensure that what has happened to UBS should not happen again."

A dispute with the US government over taxes for wealthy American customers damaged UBS's reputation and it lost clients as a result.

The new UBS will be "one that performs to the highest standard and behaves with integrity and honesty," Mr Gruebel said.

Analysts at Zuercher Kantonalbank welcomed the news. "UBS has announced very ambitious goals that are significantly beyond our current estimates," they said.

Tax deal

Separately, the Swiss Justice Department gave more details of its agreement with the US government to hand over information on 4,450 UBS customers.

The names of Americans with more than 1 million Swiss francs ($980,000) in undeclared bank accounts at UBS between 2001 and 2008 will be handed over to US tax authorities.

If there is evidence of "fraudulent behaviour" the threshold is lowered to 250,000 Swiss francs. Anyone who earned an average of 100,000 Swiss francs a year for more than three years could also be on the list.

The corresponding amount in US dollars varies widely because the currency lost more than a third of its value against the Swiss franc during the period covered.

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