Reuters reports that UBS chairman Marcel Ospel, known as a 'formidable corporate survivor', may yet be forced to step down in the wake of the losses sustained by the bank recently under his watch.
Clearly able to deal with big-company politics, Ospel has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS AG since 2001. Prior to this, he served as Group Chief Executive Officer. He was the President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) from 1996 to 1998 and was previously CEO of SBC Warburg.
While Ospel has remained in position, other executives have paid the price for UBS's recent failures. Group CEO Peter Wuffli was fired a few months back for the $3.92bn losses sustained on exposures linked to subprime lending which resulted in a second-quarter loss. Also losing his job was Huw Jenkins, the global head of the investment bank. CFO Clive Standish has also stepped down. With more asset-write downs a possibility in this quarter (UBS has already indicated that this may be on the cards), Ospel's position would become untenable if the bank posted another quarterly loss. Reuters reports that one unnamed 'senior executive at a Swiss bank' said that 'at present I am of the opinion he (Ospel) will not survive this year. What happened is really too bad. I did not expect it to go that far'.
UBS Vice-Chairman Stephan Haeringer is likely to step up to the plate, even if as a 'stop-gap' solution, in the event that Ospel does go.