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UBS Preparing to Cut Over Half of Credit Suisse Workforce

Bankers, traders and support staff in Credit Suisse’s investment bank in London, New York, and in some parts of Asia are expected to bear the brunt of the cuts.

(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG is planning to cut more than half of Credit Suisse Group AG’s 45,000-strong workforce starting next month as a result of the bank’s emergency takeover.

Bankers, traders and support staff in Credit Suisse’s investment bank in London, New York, and in some parts of Asia are expected to bear the brunt of the cuts, with almost all activities at risk, people familiar with the matter said. 

Staffers have been told to expect three rounds of cuts this year, with the first expected by the end of July and two more rounds tentatively planned for September and October, the people added, asking not to be named as the plans aren’t public.

Three months after UBS agreed to buy Credit Suisse in a government-brokered rescue, the full extent of the job cuts is starting to become clear. UBS, whose combined workforce jumped to about 120,000 when the deal closed, has said it aims to save some $6 billion in staff costs in the coming years. 

UBS intends to ultimately reduce the total combined headcount by about 30%, or 35,000 people, two of the people said. That’s broadly in line with an overall reduction of around 30,000 estimated by analysts at Redburn in a report on UBS this month.

Shares of UBS rose 1.4% at the open on Wednesday, trading at 17.81 Swiss francs ($19.907) as of 9:05 a.m. in Zurich.

A spokesperson for UBS declined to comment on the job exits. 

The cull of staff at the Swiss lender will dramatically worsen what was already a dismal year for financial sector jobs worldwide, after Wall Street investment banks including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. announced their own cuts of thousands of staff.

The combined firm’s executive ranks already display UBS’s dominance. The executive board contains only one Credit Suisse holdover, Ulrich Koerner, who remains CEO of the acquired bank. In the key wealth management unit, only five of the more than two dozen leadership appointments come from Credit Suisse.

UBS Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti said that the integration was going “very well,” at an event in Zurich on Tuesday. 

Read More on the Credit Suisse Takeover

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UBS signaled early in the takeover that it intends to drastically cut back the numbers at Credit Suisse’s loss-making investment bank, which was the source of the $5.5 billion loss in the Archegos Capital Management scandal in 2021. 

While UBS had originally planned to keep the top 20% of dealmakers, in particular those focusing on technology, media and telecoms, many of the top performing bankers have already departed or been poached by competitors, people said. Deutsche Bank AG, Jefferies Financial Group Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. are among competitors who have snapped up Credit Suisse staff in recent months.

UBS is hoping to retain the majority of Credit Suisse’s private bankers, though many have already left, two of the people said. In Asia Pacific, UBS is planning to keep a few hundred Credit Suisse private bankers, bringing its total to more than 1,200, people familiar told Bloomberg earlier this month. Some private bankers in Singapore are set to relocate to UBS’s flagship offices near a prime shopping district in the city-state as soon as next month in one of the first concrete signs of the merger taking shape. 

The bank will also need to retain, at least in the near term, the people responsible for managing Credit Suisse’s structured loans to wealthy clients and the equity derivatives books, one of the people said. 

With respect to the Swiss domestic business, UBS plans to make a decision in the third quarter on whether it will fully integrate it with its own Swiss unit or seek another option such as spinning it off or listing it publicly. The fate of the Swiss bank has been widely watched as Swiss-based companies and politicians have voiced concerns over the market power that the combined bank would exercise. 

As such, the initial rounds of job reductions will likely exclude those related to the extensive overlap in the Swiss businesses, the people said. Overall, as many as 10,000 jobs would be eliminated if the two domestic businesses are merged, one person said. About 30% of the the megabank’s combined staff is in Switzerland but it is spread across the domestic businesses as well as employees who are based in the country but work for corporate functions or in wealth and asset management. 

Ermotti has said that the “base case scenario” is for UBS to retain Credit Suisse’s domestic unit. Many employees, based on comments from Ermotti and Chairman Colm Kelleher in meetings and townhalls this month, expect the businesses to be fully merged, especially after the deterioration of the private banking arm of Credit Suisse’s domestic business, the people said. 

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Goldman Planning Another Round of Job Cuts Amid Chill in Banking

--With assistance from Ambereen Choudhury, Steven Arons, Cathy Chan, Crystal Tse, Katherine Griffiths and Bastian Benrath.

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