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Gruebel takes helm at UBS

TROUBLED Swiss banking giant UBS AG replaced its CEO yesterday, appointing Oswald J. Gruebel, former head of crosstown rival Credit Suisse Group, to take over immediately.

Gruebel's experience in leading Credit Suisse through a turnaround before he left the company two years ago will prove invaluable, UBS said. He replaces Marcel Rohner, who resigned.

"With his previous employer Credit Suisse, Mr Gruebel was the architect of a successful turnaround and restored confidence in the company in turbulent times," said a statement from the Zurich-based bank.

Gruebel said his top priority will be regaining the trust of clients and investors, followed by restoring the bank's profitability. In an internal memo to staff he announced he was planning considerable cost-cutting measures, without elaborating.

UBS, one of the pillars of Switzerland's crucial banking industry, has had massive losses related to the United States subprime mortgage crisis. Earlier this month, UBS reported a full-year loss of 19.7 billion Swiss francs (US$18.41 billion) for 2008, the biggest loss in Swiss corporate history.

The bank also faces legal pressures in the US over allegations it has helped wealthy Americans evade US taxes.

UBS is also receiving heavy financial support from the Swiss government in its attempts to recover the losses.


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