Funds flow to UBS as client trust returns

SWITZERLAND’S biggest bank UBS saw a surge in new fund inflows in the first three months of 2011 as it reported better-than-expected first-quarter results yesterday.

Clients placed SwFr11.1bn (£7.6bn) of net new funds with UBS’ wealth management division, the highest level since the end of 2007, as trust in the bank returned.

The result marked a turnaround from zero inflows in the quarter to December and a SwFr8bn outflow in the third-quarter of 2010, and pushed the division’s profit up 40 per cent to SwFr 645m.

UBS, which took an £8bn bailout in 2008 following the financial crisis, delivered a SwFr2.2bn first-quarter pre-tax group profit, a 20 per cent fall from the same quarter in 2010.

The results marked a step towards tough targets set by chief executive Oswald Grübel to turn the bank around after it took a huge writedown on toxic assets and faced charges that it helped US clients evade tax.

Grübel is targeting full-year pre-tax profit of SwFr15bn in the next three to five years, though analysts said it was unlikely to reach it this year. “Taking into account the state of the market, our result for the first quarter was satisfactory. Nevertheless, it falls short of our overall ambitions for the firm,” Grübel and UBS chairman Kaspar Villiger told shareholders.

The investment bank saw a SwFr835m profit, down 30 per cent on 2010 but up from SwFr100m in December.