UBS chief attacks merger for betraying London staff

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The Independent Online
DAVID ROBINS, former head of UBS investment bank in Europe, delivered a devastating verdict on the merger with SBC which becomes final today, saying management in Zurich had "betrayed" thousands of loyal UBS staff in London.

Over a hundred UBS staff will leave the investment bank along with Mr Robins today. Mr Robins, to much surprise in the City, was not named a director of the newly-merged investment bank when the link between UBS and SBC was announced six months ago.

Mr Robins said yesterday that he had no new job lined up, and wanted to spend the summer resting at home before hopefully returning to the City in the autumn. "I want a good long break. I didn't think it was right to be looking around before making sure everybody here was looked after," Mr Robins said.

At least 1,300 of UBS's original 2,500 investment banking employees in London have either resigned or been sacked since the merger with SBC was announced.

When asked whether he felt betrayed by Mathis Cabiallavetta, the former chief executive of UBS who becomes chairman of the new bank, Mr Robins replied: "`Betrayed' is a strong word. Some people in London do feel betrayed by (UBS's) management in Zurich.

"I feel personally there was a different way and a better way of doing this [merger]. I feel let down [by Mr Cabiallavetta], definitely - and very sad at the way things have worked out."

Mr Robins joined Phillips & Drew as an economist 17 years ago, working alongside people like Gavyn Davies, now a prospective multi-millionaire at Goldman Sachs. Mr Robins subsequently became chief economist, and when UBS bought P&D 10 years ago he spent stints in management in Tokyo, New York and Zurich before returning to London.

"I'm very sad [at leaving] because I think that over the last 10 years since P&D was bought we put in a tremendous commitment and a big investment around the world in an effort to build a global investment bank. We were building on our success in trading and sales, we were getting better at M&A and capital markets, we had a very strong franchise in capital markets. All this has been dismantled," said Mr Robins.

"It is also very said to see so many very good people depart from UBS. Many will be a lot more circumspect about giving the same loyalty to a new employer that they gave to UBS. They will be more cynical, which is very sad," he said.

"I agree with the logic of the merger. But in the view of WDR (the merged investment bank) they had a better platform and a better business [on which to build the new bank]. You will find many people at UBS who believe that wasn't the case," he said.

When asked about SBC's justification for the restructuring of the merged investment bank away from traditional management by locality and towards a global structure along product lines, in order to satisfy global clients, Mr Robins noted: "Clearly WDR has started [along this way]. "But our clients at UBS told us that they didn't want to have to deal with multiple contacts [at the bank]. They wanted a single point of contact."