UBS to Name Stephenson, Oficialdegui to Lead Dealmaking Unit

(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG is preparing a sweeping shake-up of its investment bank, elevating two executives to oversee dealmaking around the globe and combining its trading units, according to people with knowledge of the plan.

Ros Stephenson and Javier Oficialdegui will be put in charge of investment banking, which includes advising on corporate takeovers and raising funds through stock and bond sales, the people said, asking not to be named because the appointments are still confidential. The combined trading unit will be led by Jason Barron, head of equities, and George Athanasopoulos, who runs the foreign exchange, rates and currencies business, one of the people said.

The moves are part of a broader revamp that may ultimately include eliminating hundreds of jobs, the people said. Piero Novelli and Rob Karofsky, who took over the division last year, are planning to announce the promotions and related moves as soon as this week, the people said.

A spokesman for UBS declined to comment.

The promotions are part of a new generation of leadership rapidly taking shape across the Zurich-based bank. Just last week, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti shook up the wealth and asset management businesses with moves that may eventually help to groom his own successor. Now, Karofsky and Novelli are making their most dramatic changes since taking control of the investment bank last September after the abrupt departure of Andrea Orcel.

Stephenson, one of the highest-ranking women in dealmaking, would move back into direct management of the business after she’d taken on a executive vice chairman role two years ago. She was hired in 2014 from Barclays Plc and is known for high-level connections in the private equity world.

A financial institutions banker by training, Oficialdegui was one of Orcel’s deputies. They previously worked together at Bank of America Corp. before Orcel left and brought him along.

Among other changes, debt and equity capital markets operations will be combined under Brendan Connolly, who previously focused on leveraged debt.

Novelli and Karofsky are under pressure to revamp a division that’s posted volatile results in the past year. The unit generated a 10% return on equity in the first half of the year -- roughly half the profitability of UBS’s other divisions. The executives have been seeking ways to align their business more closely with the wealth management division, one of the largest in the world, by partnering capital markets teams across the two units.

Ermotti and his top lieutenants are aiming to reverse a 43% slide in the stock price since the end of 2017 as the firm dealt with issues including significant legal fines.

Executives have been discussing plans that could eliminate hundreds of jobs within the division, which employed more than 5,300 people at midyear, people familiar with the talks said last month.

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