UBS to rebrand Warburg and list on NYSE

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The Independent Online
UBS, THE Swiss banking giant, yesterday announced plans to list its shares on the New York stock exchange and rebrand Warburg Dillon Read, its City-based investment banking arm as UBS Warburg.

Europe's second-largest bank also announced it was scrapping previous targets, such as doubling assets under management by 2002, as unrealistic and focusing on boosting internally-generated profits by at least 10 per cent.

The fresh benchmarks will help it to compete more effectively with big Wall Street investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

Marcel Ospel, president and group chief executive officer, said yesterday at a series of investor presentations in Zurich that UBS is to apply for registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, with a view to gaining a New York listing next year.

The move follows the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which was brought in after the 1929 Wall Street crash to enforce a rigid separation between commercial and investment banking. UBS would be the first Swiss group listed in the United States.

The rebranding of Warburg Dillon Read to include the parent company in its title is aimed at least partly at quashing recent speculation that the division is up for sale.

Mr Ospel reaffirmed the group's commitment to keeping investment banking within the group. "I am convinced of the strength of the UBS Group business mode and our positioning in the context of industry trends. The integrated model is the vital underpinning for our strategies. And the initiatives we have under way throughout the group will realise the benefits of these strategies."

However, a full US listing will give the group a currency with which to finance acquisitions in the United States.

Luqman Arnold, chief financial officer of UBS, said: "In the future, we will no longer emphasise absolute targets. Instead, we will focus on those core ratios that measure shareholder returns delivered by the group."

The new growth targets will exclude the distorting effects of acquisitions and focus instead on internally generating growth. The targets are: 15- 20 per cent return on equity across periods of varying market conditions;

double digit average earnings per share growth, and continuous downward pressure on costs.

UBS has been one of the most aggressive consolidators in the investment banking industry sector.

Over the past five years, as SBC, the group acquired SG Warburg in Britain, and Dillon Read in the United States before merging with Union Bank of Switzerland last year.