Swiss banking giant UBS books lower profits in 2019

by AFP/ pic by TMR FILE

ZURICH – Swiss banking giant UBS said Tuesday its full-year profits fell last year, but that economic stimulus measures and easier monetary conditions “contributed to a strong performance in financial markets in the fourth quarter and are likely to prevail.”

“UBS delivered solid full-year 2019 results in mixed market conditions,” with net profit falling five percent to $4.3 billion (3.8 billion euros), the group said in a statement.

Pre-tax profit, adjusted for restructuring costs, slipped by 0.5 percent to $6.04 billion, but earnings before tax in the global wealth management division jumped by four percent to $3.4 billion.

In the fourth quarter alone, adjusted pre-tax profit soared by 153 percent to $1.2 billion, driven mainly by the wealth management and investment banking activities, UBS said.

“We finished a solid year with our best fourth-quarter adjusted profit before tax since 2010,” said chief executive Sergio Ermotti.

In light of the fourth-quarter performance, UBS said it would pay shareholders an increased dividend of $0.73 per share for 2019 compared with $0.70 for 2018.

Separately, UBS announced it planned to sell a majority 51-percent stake in UBS Fondcenter, part of its asset management business, to Clearstream, a subsidiary of German stock exchange operator Deutsche Boerse.

“The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2020,” UBS said.

It said it expects to book a post-tax gain of “approximately $600 million” from the transaction.