OpinionKeeping credibility

UBS management walks a fine line

UBS promises more dividends and higher returns, but the share price initially falls. The dilemma: If the bank promises too much, it damages its credibility; if it promises too little, it frustrates its shareholders.

UBS management walks a fine line

Just under a year after the emergency takeover of Credit Suisse, UBS is increasingly going on the offensive after initially exercising restraint for political and tactical reasons. The bank is now openly playing the acquisition as a trump card with which it hopes to satisfy the demanding investor community further. The goal is clear: The share price and market capitalisation must rise.

However, the presentation of the annual figures on Tuesday morning did not go according to the management's script. Although UBS promised its shareholders a significant increase in the dividend and the resumption of share buybacks starting in the middle of the current year, the share price fell by more than 4% well below 25 CHF and has not recovered since.

UBS cannot keep up with Unicredit distributions

Players in the financial markets have become cautious - especially in view of the economic outlook in Europe and the impending interest rate cuts, which are likely to significantly slow down the interest rate differential business that has been booming for almost two years. Last week, BNP Paribas and ING were punished by shareholders for their more cautious forecasts after presenting record results. Conversely, Italy's Unicredit generated an almost euphoric market reaction on Monday. However, this was only in exchange for the promise to pay out the entire annual profit of 8.6 billion euros.

UBS cannot go that far yet. It will pay out around 3.7 billion dollars for the past year. Although this is only slightly less than half of the pre-tax profit adjusted for integration costs and other one-off effects, it is still only about half as much as the profit in 2022. The cautious stance should be seen against the backdrop of the political discussion about tightening capital requirements for systemically important banks in Switzerland which is far from over.

UBS wants to win back lost Credit Suisse clients

UBS is now playing the card of future economies of scale from the Credit Suisse takeover all the more aggressively. The bank is extending its return on equity target for 2026 from 15% to 18% in 2028. By then, assets under management are expected to increase from the current 3.8 trillion dollars to over 5 trillion dollars. Many fleeting Credit Suisse clients are to be won back and further market share gained. The road to this goal is long and rocky. The UBS management is walking a fine line. If it promises too much, it damages its credibility; if it promises too little, it frustrates its shareholders.