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Bern nets SFr1.2bn on UBS stake

THE Swiss government yesterday sold its stake in UBS, netting a SFr1.2bn (&pound;680m) profit and demonstrating market confidence in the bank.<br /><br />Switzerland bought the 9.3 per cent stake in UBS late last year, after the credit crisis threatened the country&rsquo;s largest bank&rsquo;s survival.<br /><br />It yesterday offloaded its 332m shares at SFr16.50 (&pound;9.40) each, at a 2.7 per cent discount to market price, giving it a return of 32 per cent on an eight month investment.<br /><br />The sale was run by Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and UBS itself, and order books for the sale are understood to have been three to five times oversubscribed.<br /><br />Swiss authorities said the sale showed UBS had found a solid footing again after becoming one of the biggest victims in the credit crisis, and analysts said the government exit could herald a recovery at the bank.<br /><br />The news came as an ex-UBS banker and a Swiss lawyer were indicted in the US for allegedly helping rich Americans hide their assets in private accounts, as the crack-down on offshore tax-evasion widened.<br /><br />The pair were named as former senior UBS banker Hansruedi Schumacher and Swiss lawyer Matthias Rickenbach.<br /><br />Meanwhile, lawyers in the US said they were taking hundreds of calls from wealthy clients preparing to turn themselves into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).