Colm Kelleher will succeed Axel Weber as president of UBS

UBS is expected to choose former Morgan Stanley chairman Colm Kelleher as its next president, succeeding Axel Weber when he steps down next year after a decade overseeing the Swiss lender, according to people familiar with the decision. this determination.

Kelleher, a 64-year-old Irishman who has worked for 30 years at the Wall Street bank, could be announced as early as Saturday, the people said. UBS has conducted an extensive external search to replace Weber, with former Swiss National Bank head Philipp Hildebrand and former UniCredit CEO Jean Pierre Mustier involved in the role.

Kelleher could not be immediately reached for comment. UBS declined to comment.

Kelleher joined the Morgan Stanley office in London in 1989 after studying history at Oxford University. He ran the fixed-income trading desk in London, before moving to New York and becoming chief financial officer, then chairman. He stepped down as number two at the bank in March 2019, serving as a senior advisor.

The new chair will work alongside chief executive Ralph Hamers, who took over at UBS a year ago and has pledged to accelerate the digitization process. The Dutch former ING CEO will lay out his vision for the group in a strategy update in February.

One of the key plans in Hamer’s strategy will be to manage digital assets for wealthy clients in the US, possibly launching as early as next year. The launch will put UBS more in direct competition with Morgan Stanley, which is also targeting clients with $250,000 to $2 million in assets.

UBS has outperformed most of its European rivals in recent years largely thanks to its status as the world’s largest asset manager, with a strong presence in Asia. The Zurich-based company saw sudden increase in income During the pandemic, the wealth of wealthy clients skyrocketed thanks to the trillions of dollars that central banks have pumped into the global economy.

UBS also benefited from the turmoil of its main rival, Credit Suisse, which suffered a succession of scandals and massive trading losses that cost it and its customers billions of dollars.

The search for the new chair was led by UBS chief Jeremy Anderson and supported by the lender’s longtime headhunters, said Egon Zehnder, one of them. Bloomberg previously reported that Kelleher was in talks with UBS.

During his long tenure at UBS, Weber helped stabilize the bank following the state bailout, scale back investment banking, and prioritize growth in wealth management. This strategy has made UBS one of the most successful and valuable lenders in Europe. Weber was the chairman of the German Bundesbank from 2004 to 2011.

However, Weber left some of the work unfinished to Kelleher, who will have to help guide UBS through a number of controversial legal cases. A ruling on an appeal of a 4.5 billion euro court decision in France on facilitating tax fraud is expected in December.

A parallel case is also being investigated by Belgian authorities. UBS has set aside $2 billion to deal with projected legal costs.

Hamers himself is being investigated by a Dutch court for his role in a money-laundering scandal during his time at ING. He has denied wrongdoing.

Deutsche Bank on Friday announced Former Dutch insurer and Citigroup board member, Alex Wynaendts, will succeed Paul Achleitner as chairman next year.

In late 2019, private equity firm Cerberus – one of Deutsche’s largest shareholders – pushed for Achleitner’s exit, trying unsuccessfully to instead of, replace him with Kelleher.

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