UBS may quit Switzerland

UBS last night moved to play down reports that it would consider moving its headquarters out of Switzerland in response to the prospect of tighter regulation.<br /><br />Oswald Gr&uuml;bel, chief executive of the global banking giant, is said to have made the threat to a meeting of industry figures at the Zurich Business Club on Thursday.<br /><br />According to Swiss newspaper Sonntag, Gr&uuml;bel referred to proposals to force major banks to reorganise as holding companies. The national regulator believes this would limit the Swiss taxpayer&rsquo;s exposure to losses in the case of a future financial crisis, as banks&rsquo; overseas operations would <br />be structured as separate subsidiaries.<br /><br />In October 2008 the government was forced to pump 6bn Swiss francs (&pound;3.6bn) into UBS in return for a nine per cent stake, which was later sold at a profit.<br /><br />UBS has offices in more than 50 countries and just 15 per cent of its staff are employed in Switzerland. Restructuring the business would require expensive injections of capital into the resulting subsidiaries.<br /><br />A spokesman said reports of Gr&uuml;bel&rsquo;s comments were &ldquo;all speculation and noise&rdquo;, but added: &ldquo;In the end, we have to consider everything.&rdquo;