UBS earnings hit three-year high

SWISS banking giant UBS said first-quarter pre-tax profit would be at least CHF 2.5bn (£1.52bn).

The group attributed some of the increase in profit in the first quarter to a slowing of client withdrawals in all its business sections.

UBS issued the figures in an unexpected interim statement ahead of a shareholder meeting later in the week which will focus on controversial bonus payouts for top executives.

It said first quarter profit would be almost three times bigger than the previous quarter.

UBS said in the statement: "Net new money outflows in all businesses were substantially lower than in the fourth quarter 2009."

The company’s shareholder meeting will discuss the bank’s bonus system while the bank is due to report full first-quarter figures on 4 May.

The bank lost a total of CHF 2.7BN during 2009 including a loss of CHF 2bn in the first quarter.