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New round of job cuts at UBS

SWISS bank UBS is cutting 3 percent of its Asia-Pacific staff, in what banking sources said was part of a fresh round of global job cuts at the crisis-hit bank.

A UBS spokesman in Hong Kong said yesterday that the bank will cut 240 jobs, all in the wealth management business. Banking sources said they included 100 redundancies in Singapore, where UBS is a relatively strong player in private banking.

Swiss newspapers reported on Sunday that UBS, one of Europe's banks hit hardest by the financial crisis, will announce new job cuts soon, possibly on April 22. UBS declined to comment on the reports.

New Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel, a former Credit Suisse boss brought out of retirement by UBS in February, has already signaled that more cuts were inevitable. He will address his first UBS shareholders meeting today.

The bank has already announced plans to cut about 11,000 jobs, most of them in investment banking, to bring the total staff number down to about 75,000 this year.

Helvea analyst Peter Thorne said he expected UBS would cut another 5,00 to 10,000 jobs. "It's inevitable. Gruebel has made that clear from the day he started."

New round of cuts

The NZZ am Sonntag newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying the bank's staff in Switzerland of 26,400 would be hit hard in a new round of cuts, which could be announced on April 22.

Elsewhere, the head of United States wealth management informed his 19,000 employees about planned job cuts last week, although it was not clear how many positions were to go, newspapers also reported.

The newspaper said last month that the world's largest wealth manager in terms of assets would cut a further 8,000 jobs, while the Sonntagzeitung weekly speculated that the worst-case scenario could be another 10,000 jobs to go.

UBS managed about 130 billion Swiss francs (US$115 billion) in assets in Asia at the end of last year, according to company data. Despite the job cuts, UBS said it will continue to invest in Asia which remains a "strategic priority."

Many of UBS's rivals such as Citigroup and Credit Suisse have shed staff in Asia in the last few months.


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