UBS has appointed Alex Wilmot-Sitwell and Carsten Kengeter as co-chief executive officers of its investment bank. In its choice of new leaders, UBS is trying to achieve a balance between a veteran, well-known across the firm, and someone relatively new, as well as between the investment banking and trading sides of the business, while also reaffirming its commitment to staying in investment banking, say specialists.
The pair replaces Jerker Johansson who has resigned after one year in the CEO role.
In selecting Wilmot-Sitwell, UBS is elevating a seasoned UBS hand to the top investment banking job. Wilmot-Sitwell joined UBS in 1996 and has risen to become a member of the group executive board. He has been joint global head of investment banking since the end of 2005 and chairman and CEO of UBS Group Europe, Middle East and Africa since early 2008.
Carsten Kengeter, on the other hand, was poached by UBS from Goldman Sachs last year and appointed joint global head of fixed income, currencies and commodities. With his co-CEO role, Kengeter has been promoted to a member of the group executive board.
Kengeter relocated to London from Hong Kong for the UBS job and took on the role as co-head of FICC, reporting to Johansson, early this year. At Goldman Sachs he was a partner and co-head of the firm's securities division for Asia ex-Japan, with responsibility for all FICC products.
Joint responsibility at the helm currently characterises investment banking at UBS in Asia as well with David Chin and Matthew Hanning appointed co-heads of IB when Rob Rankin resigned to move to Deutsche Bank. However, both Chin and Hanning have somewhat similar backgrounds on the advisory side of the business.
"Our investment bank is indispensable to our global firm and to our integrated business model," said Oswald Grübel, group CEO of UBS, in a written statement while making the announcement. Grubel himself joined UBS earlier this year and has been broadcasting the message that the Swiss bank is committed to remaining in investment banking.
Grübel's predecessor Marcel Rohner hired Jerker Johansson from Morgan Stanley in March 2008. Johansson was vice-chairman for Europe at Morgan Stanley when he was lured to UBS and before that was head of the institutional equity division and co-head of the combined equity and fixed-income sales and trading businesses.
Johansson was a veteran at Morgan Stanley with a 22-year career spanning primarily equity and fixed income. He joined UBS at a time when the Swiss bank was already struggling with losses in its fixed-income department and replaced Huw Jenkins who left at the end of 2007 in the aftermath of the subprime-related write-downs. His tenure was marked by headcount reduction across UBS but particularly in the investment bank. As recently as April 15, on the back of a preliminary first-quarter loss of $1.75 billion, UBS announced it will cut another 8,700 jobs, taking the total job losses at the bank to over 15,000 since the financial crisis started.
UBS shares ended the day marginally up at SFr14.15 ($12.32).