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UBP gains CH105m in profits in H1-2011, but assets still down as Swiss Franc continues ascent

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Guy de Picciotto
Opalesque Industry Update - Swiss private bank and asset manager Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) recently publicized profits of CHF105.4m ($125.2m) for the first half of 2011 (H1-2011) – compared to CHF103.3m in H1-2010.

As of 30th June 2011, assets totalled CHF60.7bn ($72.1bn) – compared to CHF65bn ($69bn) as the end of 2010. Assets were therefore down by 6.6%. They were mainly affected, says the bank, by negative exchange-rate effects.

At the end of 2010, UBP had CHF65bn in AuM compared to CHF75bn a year before that – again, due to negative exchange-rate effects.

Indeed, the Swiss Franc has been climbing steadily since 2008. According to Bloomberg, the Swiss franc appreciated 2.9% to a record 1.08467 per euro in London yesterday, the steepest intraday gain since Oct. 24, 2008. The currency rose against all of its 16 major peers, reaching all-time highs against the euro, dollar and pound.

UBP’s balance sheet total reached CHF15.3bn, and the annualised return on shareholder equity for H1-2011 was 12.8%. Conservative risk-management has allowed the bank to maintain a strong financial base and a Tier 1 capital ratio of 23.6%.

Guy de Picciotto, UBP's CEO, said that the bank, which employs around 1,200 people in various locations, focused on implementing its strategic plan in Asia and other growth markets, and on strengthening its private and institutional management and sales teams on the European markets during H1-2011.

The asset management branch of UBP, which runs funds of hedge funds, was one of the first to demand of its underlying managers to have independent administrators and custodians at the end of 2008 – after suffering from heavy redemption request levels that were spurred by the credit crisis. But its image suffered in the last couple of years: it had been an indirect investor in Bernard Madoff’s funds and was was asked to pay late last year around $500m to settle claims by Madoff’s trustee. Also, the bank was allegedly an investor in some of the funds that were probed by the FBI last year, which was investigating an insider trading ring.

See Opalesque’s video interview of Larry Morgenthal, CEO and CIO of Alternatives at UBP Asset Management here: Source
And corresponding article: Opalesque Exclusive: UBP had to take a hard line with underlying managers not willing to comply with better practice Source
B. Gravrand


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