UBS brings back Sergio Ermotti as CEO after Credit Suisse takeover

He returns to the helm of Switzerland's largest lender on April 5, more than two years after leaving

epa08146886 Sergio Ermotti, CEO of Swiss bank UBS, speaks during a press conference announcing the bank's 2019 full year and fourth quarter result in Zurich, Switzerland, 21 January 2020.  EPA/CHRISTIAN BEUTLER
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The board of UBS has appointed Sergio Ermotti as group chief executive and president, about two years after he left the bank, to help lead it after its $3.2 billion purchase of rival Credit Suisse.

The appointment was made “in light of the new challenges and priorities facing UBS after the announcement of the acquisition”, Switzerland's largest lender said on Wednesday.

Mr Ermotti will succeed Ralph Hamers, who agreed to step down “to serve the interests of the new combination, the Swiss financial sector and the country”, UBS said.

UBS credited Mr Hamers with successfully managing the bank through a challenging market environment and delivering record results for two successive years.

It said he was “instrumental” in the acquisition of Credit Suisse “under extreme circumstances”, to the benefit of both banks and the stability of the Swiss financial system.

Mr Hamers will remain at UBS and work alongside Mr Ermotti as an adviser during the transition period to ensure the successful closure of the transaction.

Mr Ermotti was the group chief executive of UBS from November 2011 to October 2020 and is currently chairman of Swiss Re, one of the world's largest reinsurance companies.

He will assume his new role on April 5, 2023.

“I am honoured to be asked to lead this bank at a time that is so important for all its stakeholders and for Switzerland,” Mr Ermotti said.

“The task at hand is an urgent and challenging one. In order to do it in a sustainable and successful way, and in the interest of all stakeholders involved, we need to thoughtfully and systematically assess all options.

“I am conscious of the uncertainty many feel and I promise that, together with my colleagues, our full attention will be on delivering the best possible outcome for our clients, our employees, our shareholders and the Swiss government.”

Earlier this month, Swiss regulators jumped in to ring-fence Credit Suisse, the country's second-largest lender, by ironing out a deal and paving the way for it be absorbed by UBS, amid a crisis of confidence in banking.

The Swiss National Bank agreed to lend UBS up to 100 billion Swiss francs ($108 billion) to help it takeover Credit Suisse while Swiss regulator Finma erased $17 billion worth of Credit Suisse’s bonds and scrapped the need for shareholders to vote on the agreement.

Under the terms of the acquisition, one share of UBS will be issued to Credit Suisse shareholders for every 22.48 Credit Suisse shares they own.

UBS estimates that the combined invested assets will total $5 trillion, with the merged lender being double the size of Switzerland’s economy.

“While the acquisition will support UBS’s existing strategy, it imposes new priorities on us,” said UBS chairman Colm Kelleher.

“With his unique experience, I am very confident that Sergio will deliver the successful integration that is so essential for both banks’ clients, employees and investors, and for Switzerland. I know Sergio will hit the ground running.”

Shares of UBS settled nearly 4 per cent higher at the close of trading in Zurich on Wednesday following the announcement.

Updated: March 30, 2023, 3:39 AM