UBS CEO expects more local bank consolidation than European deals

Designated new CEO Hamers of Swiss bank UBS addresses a news conference in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: Designated new CEO Ralph Hamers of Swiss bank UBS addresses a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

February 1, 2022

ZURICH (Reuters) – UBS Chief Executive Ralph Hamers said on Tuesday he expects to see more local mergers and acquisitions than cross-border consolidation in the European banking industry.

“Cross-border mergers in banks have only worked to a certain extent,” Hamers said after the bank’s fourth-quarter results, adding that the capital and liquidity benefits involved had been eroded due to rules keeping money within a country.

“I would expect cross-border mergers to happen (only) if a player already had a sizeable position in a country where the target would be, in order to firm up the local market share, the local scale,” he told reporters.

“You can expect much more local mergers and acquisitions … because then you are for sure in the same regulatory environment, the same legal environment, the same tax environment for your products, the same technology environment.”

UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, said earlier on Tuesday that it was open to further bolt-on acquisitions after the announcement in January of its $1.4 billion purchase of digital wealth management startup Wealthfront.

Hamers declined to define the size of such deals, saying only that UBS would consider targets smaller than itself.

“I can’t give you an indication (of size). It really depends on the opportunity that presents itself,” he said.

“Organically, we’re doing quite well,” Hamers noted, pointing to the bank’s best annual profit in sixteen years.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Alexander Smith)