As UBS prepares to post earnings this week, investors and employees are eagerly awaiting clues as to how Switzerland’s largest bank is faring after swallowing up its fallen rival Credit Suisse.
UBS is due to release its second-quarter income statement early Thursday — the first results presented since the mega-merger that rocked the Swiss banking scene earlier this year.
Keen attention will be paid to layoff plans and the fate of Credit Suisse’s Swiss division, which have been at the heart of swirling rumours in recent months.
Swiss authorities strongarmed UBS into the $3.25 billion takeover on March 19 to prevent its closest domestic rival from going under — which could have had catastrophic consequences for the global financial system.
But since the complex merger was completed in June, UBS has divulged little about its plans.
In the meantime, the number of questions around the repercussions of the deal has swelled.
– Details wanted –
“The list is long,” Andreas Venditti, an analyst at Swiss investment manager Vontobel, told AFP.
In particular, he added, he will be looking for details on the retention of Credit Suisse staff and clients, and hopefully a timeline for the integration process.
Venditti also said there would be less focus this time around on UBS’s net profit — usually a key measure of how the bank is faring — since it will be distorted by a string of exceptional items.
UBS has already indicated that the results should include an exceptional accounting gain of nearly $35 billion due to the difference between the purchase price and the recognised net assets of Credit Suisse.
They will also include less than a month of integrated Credit Suisse results, making any profit estimates difficult, he said.
While little has been said publicly about Credit Suisse’s results, the SonntagsZeitung weekly newspaper cited insiders at the bank suggesting it suffered a loss of 3.5 billion Swiss francs ($4 billion) during the second quarter.
Analysts with the Zurich Cantonal Bank agreed that results from UBS’s own operations were likely to “take a backseat”, suggesting in a research note that most attention would be paid to “integration details”.
It predicted that investors would be especially interested in the outflow of funds, as they search for indications of client confidence in the newly merged behemoth.
– ‘Real value’? –
Ipek Ozkardeskaya, an analyst at Swissquote bank, agreed.
“We will be closely watching the revenue after merger, the further integration plans, job cuts and what the bank will do with its Swiss banking unit,” she told AFP.
The results themselves, she said, “are expected to be strong of course after the merger”.
“Yet investors will watch whether this forced marriage will create real value for the mega-UBS.”
There has been particularly intense speculation around the fate of Credit Suisse’s Swiss unit, with questions over whether it could continue to operate independently due to the significant overlap with UBS’s business in Switzerland.
Last week, the Bloomberg financial news agency, citing unidentified sources, reported that UBS was leaning towards a full integration of Credit Suisse’s domestic bank, rather than spinning it off.
That suggests that significant job cuts could be expected.
A source close to the matter told AFP that a first wave of layoffs has already begun at Credit Suisse, while the Financial News website reported that 200 investment bankers had already been asked to leave.
At the same time, observers noted recent positive developments for UBS, including its settlement of lawsuits in the United States dating back to the 2008 global financial crisis.
The bank also announced this month that it would not need the billions in support offered by the Swiss government and the central bank to go through with the Credit Suisse takeover.
UBS seems to be sailing on “a summer breeze of good news rather than a storm”, Deutsche Bank analyst Benjamin Goy said in a research note.
Switzerland’s Competition Commission told AFP it was still studying the merger, and expects to issue its opinion “at the end of September”.