UBS appoints former boss to lead ‘urgent and challenging’ Credit Suisse merger

Swiss bank UBS has reappointed its former boss to lead the takeover of Credit Suisse after it rescued the beleaguered rival lender.

Sergio P. Ermotti will replace Ralph Hamers as group chief executive as the bank faces the “urgent and challenging” task of merging the two global banking giants.

UBS said Mr Ermotti, who led the group for nine years until he stepped down in 2020, is better suited to manage the transition because of his experience transforming the bank after the 2008 financial crisis.

Mr Hamers said he was “sorry to leave” UBS but that he was “stepping aside in the interests of the new combined entity and its stakeholders, including Switzerland and its financial sector”.

UBS rescued Credit Suisse in a 3.25 billion US dollar (£2.64 billion) deal aimed at stemming the turmoil in the global financial system.

It followed the collapse of two US banks and concerns over the long-running troubles at Credit Suisse that led its shares to plunge and customers to pull out money.

UBS’s chairman Colm Kelleher stressed the size and significance of the merger, which he emphasised was a “global solution” rather than Swiss solution and the “biggest single financial transaction since 2008”.

“It is in the opinion of the board that for this massive integration exercise, Sergio would be the better pilot of this next voyage of UBS”, he said.

Banking sector turmoil
UBS bought Credit Suisse for 3.25 billion US dollars (£2.64 billion) in a historic rescue deal aimed at stemming turmoil in the global financial system (PA)

Mr Ermotti will officially take over from April 5 and Mr Hamers will remain at the bank, working as an adviser during the transition period.

Mr Hamers, who took on the top role in November 2020, played an “instrumental” role in bringing about the Credit Suisse acquisition, UBS said.

The merger is expected to lead to job losses as UBS revealed it plans to run down the investment bank division of Credit Suisse.

It has not yet decided exactly how staff across the regions will be affected, but Mr Kelleher said on Wednesday the “number one priority” is stabilising the situation.

He said there are cultural issues between Credit Suisse and UBS which it will try to stamp out.

“We do not want to import a bad culture into UBS”, he insisted.

“There are clearly parts of Credit Suisse that have had a bad culture, which I think were primarily focused in the investment bank.

“There are clearly talented people in the investment side who we would be interested in having, but we have to put everybody through a culture filter to make sure that we do not import something into our ecosystem that causes issues.”

Mr Ermotti added: “The task at hand is an urgent and challenging one. In order to do it in a sustainable and successful way, and in the interest of all stakeholders involved, we need to thoughtfully and systematically assess all options.”

He said he felt a “call of duty” to step up to the role and that he will remain at the helm for as long as he is needed, and at least until the merger is complete.