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October 29, 2016

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HK regulator probes UBS’ role as sponsor of listings

SWISS bank UBS said Hong Kong’s securities regulator is investigating its role as sponsor of certain unnamed stock market listings in the city, with the intention to start unspecified action against the bank and some of its employees.

The disclosure by UBS, released with its third-quarter financial results, made it the first major bank to say it was being probed since Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission introduced tougher rules for listing sponsors. UBS said the watchdog had informed it of its action this month.

The SFC’s scope for action means UBS could face financial penalties, and may even be stripped of its ability to provide corporate finance advisory services in Hong Kong for a period of time. The SFC confirmed separately an investigation was “under way into the role of UBS as a sponsor of certain IPOs” but declined to comment further.

In a media call yesterday, UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said of the Hong Kong investigation: “We fulfilled our obligation in terms of disclosure. This, as you can see from the disclosure, is a recent development,” adding that he could not comment further.

The SFC probe adds to the litany of other investigations UBS has faced in US and Europe, including for aiding tax evasion by wealthy clients and rate rigging.


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