Swiss bank UBS reports pretax loss in 4Q, plans share buybacks after Credit Suisse deal wraps up

GENEVA (AP) — UBS on Tuesday reported a fourth-quarter pretax loss of more than $750 million as the Swiss banking giant continued to integrate its longtime rival Credit Suisse after a government-orchestrated merger.

The Zurich-based lender reported losses before tax of $751 million in the quarter, which included losses of more than a half-billion dollars linked to an investment in SIX Group, which operates Switzerland’s main stock market. The net loss in the quarter came in at $278 million.

UBS said it expects to complete the merger of Credit Suisse by the end of the second quarter this year, and the merger of the two banks’ Swiss operations by the end of the third quarter. The company plans to increase its dividend for the 2023 financial year by 27 percent, and said it would resume share buybacks in the second half of the year.

“As we move to the next phase of our journey, we will focus on restructuring and optimizing the combined businesses,” CEO Sergio Ermotti said in a statement. “While our progress over the next three years will not be measured in a straight line, our strategy is clear.”

The bank said net new assets came in at $22 billion during the fourth quarter, which marked a slowdown from the injection of new assets shortly after the merger was completed in June last year. For the year, UBS took in $77 billion in new assets across its wealth-management and personal and corporate banking segments.

The bank said operating expenses jumped 43% to more than $5 billion in the quarter, largely due to expenses linked to the Credit Suisse consolidation and integration expenses, and higher compensation for financial advisors.

Of that, UBS said it faced a $60 million charge from the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to recover losses to an insurance fund in connection with the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the United States last year. Woes at Credit Suisse — before the UBS merger — and the two U.S. banks unsettled global financial markets in 2023.

UBS said revenues jumped 35% to nearly $10.9 billion in the fourth quarter.

Underlying pretax profit of $592 million in the fourth quarter fell more than one-third compared with the third quarter, UBS said, citing “lower client activity and billable invested assets” as well as $75 million in bank-levy expenses and the cost of the FDIC assessment.

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