UBS Is Said to Consider Sale of Spanish Wealth-Management Unit

UBS Group AG is considering disposing of its wealth-management presence in Spain as part of Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers’ review of the bank’s footprint, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Switzerland’s largest bank, which has a domestic wealth business in Spain with assets of about 10 billion Swiss francs ($11 billion), is reviewing options which may lead to a sale or exit, the people said, declining to be identified discussing private matters. The business would likely be of interest to domestic Spanish lenders, the people said.

A spokesperson for UBS declined to comment.

Hamers is making his mark on the global wealth manager, questioning the need for having a domestic presence where a local partnership might work better for the day-to-day banking needs of wealthy clients. UBS is selling its domestic wealth management business in Austria to Liechtenstein’s LGT Group, and Hamers said last month there could be further departures from other countries.

Many European markets are not big enough to justify a large domestic presence for a multinational bank. In Asia, however, Hamers sees opportunity to expand onshore with digital banking licenses. The ex-ING Groep NV CEO -- best known for expanding the Dutch bank’s consumer banking platform across Europe -- is now grappling with ways to make managing money for the world’s wealthy more efficient.

The bank is not currently engaged in active discussions with potential purchasers of the business, said the people.

The CEO is currently undertaking a review of all the bank’s businesses and expects to give an update on strategic initiatives and plans in the second quarter, the bank said last month.

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