New UBS Chief Makes First Shakeup Atop the Bank

UBS Group AG Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers made his first mark on the bank’s executive board, giving Sabine Keller-Busse a new role and extending Iqbal Khan’s responsibilities.

Keller-Busse, one of UBS’s highest-ranking women, will take over as head of Personal & Corporate Banking and president of UBS Switzerland. She will replace Axel P. Lehmann in January and cede her current position as group chief operating officer when a replacement is named. Khan, co-head of Global Wealth Management, assumes Keller-Busse’s role as president of the EMEA region, while keeping his current responsibilities.

New UBS Chief Makes First Shakeup Atop the Bank

The moves give Hamers an opportunity to make his own pick for the COO job, a key position in the bank’s push to improve its digital capabilities. The CEO, who succeeded Sergio Ermotti last month at the helm of Switzerland’s biggest bank, led an aggressive push into technological capabilities and online banking in his previous role as CEO of ING Groep NV.

A new group COO will be named later, the bank said.

It’s the first executive change by Hamers, who will have to find ways to defend the bank’s edge as the Covid-19 pandemic forces lenders to step up cost cuts and reignites consolidation talk.

The new position gives Keller-Busse, once seen as a candidate for the bank’s top job, control of one of UBS’s key businesses, albeit one where profitability has slowed in recent quarters. “Sabine Keller-Busse is ideally positioned to move UBS Switzerland forward to continued success,” Hamers said in a statement on Friday.

New UBS Chief Makes First Shakeup Atop the Bank

In her new role, Keller-Busse remains one of the most powerful women in Swiss finance. She was already among UBS’s top female bankers alongside U.S.-based asset management head Suni Harford. In Switzerland, her peers include Lara Warner, Credit Suisse Group AG’s head of risk and compliance; private bank Mirabaud managing partner Camille Vial; head of BlackRock Inc. in Switzerland, Mirjam Staub-Bisang, and Annika Falkengren, one of seven managing partners at private bank Lombard Odier.

The move extends Khan’s reach to add responsibilities outside of wealth management, putting him on more equal footing with his co-head of Global Wealth Management, who is president of UBS’s Americas business. The EMEA role covers asset management and the investment bank in the region and may help drive UBS’s effort to increase collaboration between its wealth and investment-banking businesses.

The world’s largest wealth manager in October reported better-than-expected profit, helped by a booming investment bank, unexpected inflows from rich clients, and some of the lowest provisions for bad loans in Europe. Still, profits at Personal & Corporate banking, UBS’s swiss consumer and corporate business slowed from a year earlier in the first nine months while the bank also took a hit from a commodity trade finance loss.

Lehmann will step down from his current roles on Jan. 31 , the bank said. Lehmann was a member of the UBS board of directors from 2009 to 2015 before being named COO in 2016.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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