UBS Going ‘Full Bull’ on China Despite Outflows, Slowdown
(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers pushed back against broadening concerns over the growth outlook in China, despite recent turbulence around China Evergrande Group and worries that government policy will hurt the wealthy.
“I’m strategically full bull on China, absolutely,” Hamers said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Manus Cranny on Tuesday. “We plan to invest more.”
The bank experienced $1.8 billion in asset outflows for its wealth business in Asia Pacific in the third quarter and experienced an overall drop in the assets it manages of 5%, due to negative market performance and foreign currency effects, totaling $3.9 billion.
Analysts from Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc are among those that have warned that China faces a sharper growth slowdown than most expect, as the push to cut reliance on real estate combines with power shortages and the pandemic. Those factors plus President Xi Jinping’s push to curb wealth excesses may stoke pessimism among wealthy families and entrepreneurs into next year.
Chief Financial Officer Kirt Gardner confirmed in a call with analysts after third-quarter earnings were released that wealth-management clients in China are becoming more cautious and deleveraging. Analysts raised worries about growth prospects in Asia multiple times.
“Asia always recovers faster than expectations and we’ll see that going forward,” Gardner said on the call.
The executives’ tone differs somewhat from UBS economists own view on China’s outlook. UBS downgraded its growth forecast for gross domestic product in 2021 this month, to below the consensus. The bank now sees expansion of 7.6% this year, whereas economists surveyed by Bloomberg see 8.1%.
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