ubs over the worst of its problems

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    From correspondents in Zurich | April 14, 2008
    SWISS bank UBS is over the worst of its problems and is strong enough to manage its risks and positions, the group's chief executive said overnight.

    "We are no longer at the lowest point. There are certain factors that we cannot influence, however, such as the US real estate market. There, there is volatility," CEO Marcel Rohner said in an interview with Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

    "But we are strong enough to manage our risks and our positions. Now it is about winning back the destroyed trust on the customer side," Mr Rohner told the newspaper.

    Board member Peter Kurer, proposed by the board as a replacement for Marcel Ospel as chairman later this month, said in an interview published on Saturday that writedowns at the world's largest wealth manager had already been so aggressive they could not get any worse.

    UBS has written down around $US37 billion ($39 billion) in assets and cleaned out most senior management, including its chairman, after asking investors for emergency cash twice in two months, making it the world's hardest-hit bank from the subprime crisis.

    Mr Rohner said UBS would announce in May how many jobs would be cut in its investment bank, the source of the losses, but said estimates that 3000 to 4000 jobs would go in this division were too high.

    The fixed-income business will be most affected by the job cuts, he said.

    Mr Rohner also said he was seeing trading in areas where there had been no markets for months.

    "This is generally a sign that an end (of the financial crisis) is foreseeable," Mr Rohner said.

    His comments echo those of Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, who said markets were probably in the late stages of the global credit crisis that began last summer, but he, like Mr Rohner, would not venture a prediction for when it would end.

    SOURCE: "THE AUSTRALIAN" this morning
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