Swiss giant UBS shrinks investment bank, halves risky assets

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Swiss banking giant UBS said Thursday it was to dramatically cut back its investment bank arm, reducing its risky assets by half or 145 billion Swiss francs (117 billion euros).

"We have chosen to substantially reduce the risk profile of the bank by exiting and downsizing businesses which are not value added to our client franchise or deliver unattractive risk-adjusted returns," newly-appointed chief executive Sergio Ermotti said in a statement.

The shake-up comes as the bank, Switzerland's largest, tries to draw a line under a disastrous period which has seen it battered by the global financial crisis and embroiled in disputes over client secrecy.

The decision follows a review by the board of directors and group executive board.

Ermotti, 51, was appointed head of UBS on Tuesday after the departure in September of Oswald Gruebel in the wake of a massive rogue trading scandal, another blot on the bank's record.

The board also announced that former Bundesbank president Axel Weber will succeed Kaspar Villiger as board chairman from May 2012, a year earlier than planned.

Its investment bank will be "more focused and less complex," UBS said on Thursday.

© 2011 AFP

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