UBS posts doubling of third-quarter profit in Ermotti's swan song


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) – UBS (S:) on Tuesday posted a 99% jump in third-quarter profit on heavy turnover in global markets, helping the bank to a strong performance in investment banking as well as an unexpected rise in earnings for wealth management.

Net profit for the world’s largest wealth manager climbed to $2.1 billion (1.6 billion pounds) for the July-September period, surpassing by a wide margin expectations for $1.557 billion in the bank’s poll of 22 analysts.

“Our third quarter results continue to demonstrate that our strategy is differentiating us as we continuously adapt and accelerate the pace of change,” Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti said in his last month at the helm of Switzerland’s biggest bank. He is due to be replaced in November by former ING (AS:) head Ralph Hamers.

“UBS has all the options open to write another successful chapter of its history under Ralph’s leadership,” he said in a statement.

The sharp profit rise for Europe’s first major lender to report third-quarter results follows a mixed performance for big U.S. banks that saw those focused on trading clocking big gains while retail banks took a hit from the pandemic.

UBS’ investment banking division saw pre-tax profit jump 268% during the quarter thanks to a spike in trading in equity markets which more than offset a fall for its advisory business.

Asset management saw profits grow six times from a year ago.

Despite flagging recurring fees – which rely on overall market performance – and a client shift into lower-margin funds – wealth management posted an 18% rise in pre-tax profit thanks to high levels of client transactions and as the bank added $10 billion in net new loans. Analysts had expected earnings to fall in UBS’s core division.

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Assets under management in that division rose to an all-time high of $2.754 trillion. Net new money fell to $1.4 billion, however, due to a $4 billion withdrawal related to the assets of one single client in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

The robust showing by UBS’ investment bank marks an ironic sendoff for Ermotti, who during his near-decade at the helm radically shrank the division and ramped up its focus on serving the world’s rich.

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