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UBS Makes Karofsky and Khan Wealth Co-Heads in Management Shakeup

Iqbal Khan, who previously had sole charge of the key wealth unit, will now also become president of the Asia Pacific region.


(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG appointed investment bank head Rob Karofsky to run its US business and jointly oversee wealth with Iqbal Khan, in a management shakeup that paves the way for a race to succeed Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti.

Khan, who previously had sole charge of the key wealth unit, will now also become president of the Asia Pacific region, the Zurich based bank said in a statement Thursday. Khan will relocate to Asia later this summer, the bank said.

UBS is revamping its executive board as it prepares to complete the legal merger with Credit Suisse and orient its strategy to key markets in the Americas and Asia. Karofsky’s elevation helps implement Ermotti’s goal of expanding in the US, while Khan’s role enables him to focus on high-growth regions.

“With these changes, Iqbal and Rob are the prime candidates for UBS’s CEO job, once Sergio Ermotti retires, likely in a few years,” said Andreas Venditti, an analyst at Vontobel. 

Part of the rationale for the changes was to ensure that both Khan and Karofsky have more rounded experience running different areas of the bank to strengthen their offering in a potential CEO race, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

The split also gives them distinct areas in which to prove themselves — UBS’s challenge in growing in the US is a tough assignment, while the wealth business is the key focus for the bank, the person said, who asked not to be named discussing private details. That ensures both executives will be highly motivated, the person said.

Bloomberg reported Karofsky’s promotion earlier. UBS shares were little changed in Zurich trading, and are up some 8% this year.

Read More: UBS Considering US CEO Role for Karofsky in Strategic Revamp

UBS remains focused on completing the integration of its former rival, and has pushed back the expected date for Ermotti to step down from his second term leading the bank to early 2027. The chief executive is seeking to orient the bank for growth beyond the merger, and has said he’s working to build out its presence in the US where the bank has long been sub-scale compared to Wall Street peers. 

Read More: UBS’s Ermotti Says His Term as CEO Could Stretch to 2027 

Other names potentially in the mix for the top spot are Beatriz Martin, who runs the critical unit that’s winding down Credit Suisse assets, and Sabine Keller-Busse, who is head of UBS’s Swiss business.

UBS named Karofsky, 57, sole head of its investment bank unit in 2021, building on his background in trading. He joined UBS in 2014, helping drive a digital transformation of the markets unit. The investment bank helped underpin a firm-wide return to profitability last quarter, delivering a particularly strong performance in the Americas while completing the integration of its Credit Suisse counterpart. 

Khan, 48, who helped run Credit Suisse’s international wealth business for several years before moving to UBS in 2019, was subsequently made sole global wealth head. UBS is the world’s largest manager of wealth outside the US.

Former Credit Suisse chief executive officer Ulrich Koerner will retire and leave the combined bank later this year, according to the statement.

In other appointments, George Athanasopoulos and Marco Valla will become co-presidents of the investment bank and join the executive board. Damian Vogel will succeed Christian Bluhm as group chief risk officer. Edmund Koh, the current president of Asia-Pacific, will become regional chair.

Naureen Hassan, who previously served as head of the Americas, will retire from the bank. 

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