A spokesperson for UBS denied rumors, aired by CNBC last week, that the Swiss firm is contemplating a sale of its U.S. wealth-management business in order to raise capital. UBS has written-down billions of dollars related to mortgage-securities losses.
"This business is not for sale,” said UBS spokesperson Karina Byrne. Wealth Management U.S. continues to be part of our leading global wealth-management franchise."
Top executives met in Berlin last week to discuss strategy, including the prospect of a 5- to 10-percent cut in jobs at the firm, according to published reports.
Shares of UBS fell 5 percent in morning trading, and have dropped more than 50 percent in the last six months. UBS has written down roughly $18 billion related to the collapse of U.S. sub-prime loan investments—the worst losses of any European institution so far—and analysts expect more write-downs will follow. Last month the firm received a $12 billion capital injection from GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and an undisclosed Middle Eastern investor.
Meanwhile, the market is reeling over news that Bear Stearns agreed Sunday to sell itself at bargain-basement prices to J.P. Morgan to prevent collapse. Some expect more pain for other Wall Street financial-services firms.