What investors will pore over in UBS’s first results since Credit Suisse takeover
Earnings report will be scrutinised for clues on how huge banking rescue is playing out
Zurich — UBS will publish on August 31 its first earnings report since a hastily arranged takeover of its Swiss rival Credit Suisse, shedding new light on the deal’s impact and the inner workings of the new banking giant.
Besides its second quarter figures — delayed by over a month because of the deal's complexities — investors will be poring over any additional information for clues on how the biggest banking rescue since the global financial crisis is playing out.
Here is what investors and analysts will be looking for on Thursday:
Scale of damage at Credit Suisse
UBS’s results will include a separate disclosure for Credit Suisse, granting a more detailed overview of its problems, which UBS has now taken on.
The information will show the extent of the damage to Credit Suisse’s standing with customers and, in particular, its stricken wealth management arm, in the wake of the bank’s rescue, arranged over one March weekend by Swiss authorities.
Credit Suisse has already flagged that it expects to post a hefty loss for 2023.
Illustrating the lasting damage to customer faith in the bank, outflows — clients pulling out money — are expected to have continued in April-June, despite the rescue. That will further shrink the assets managed by the subsidiary from 500bn francs at the end of March.
Clients leaving UBS?
Rich clients often kept accounts at both UBS and Credit Suisse, so as not to place all their eggs in one basket. Now some could decide to move part of their money elsewhere to spread their risk.
In previous quarters, UBS had reported significant inflows, as it benefited from Credit Suisse clients looking for safer alternatives.
Now that the two have merged, that effect could reverse, banking analysts say. Deutsche Bank analyst Benjamin Goy said he expected to see outflows of up to 100bn Swiss francs over time. The results this week will show if this shift has already started.
Swiss bank’s future
Many bank watchers are waiting to see what UBS does with Credit Suisse’s “crown jewel”, its Swiss arm.
UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti has promised a decision by the end of summer. Many analysts expect an announcement this week.
Spinning off or floating the Swiss business are seen as options, as well as a full integration, which Ermotti has said is likely, but which is not popular in Switzerland. Swiss politicians, campaigning for national elections, have spoken out against such a move, voicing concern it would result in thousands of jobs being axed. UBS, however, may be able to shrug off this pressure after it has declared it would not use the government’s financial guarantees granted for the deal to happen, thus letting taxpayers off the hook.
When announcing the takeover in March, UBS said it was expecting cost savings of more than $8bn, 75% of which would come from cutting the bank’s staff, which ballooned to 120,000 with the merger.
Analysts expect UBS to cut about a third of the combined group’s global workforce, or 30,000-35,000 jobs. A full integration of Credit Suisse’s domestic arm could affect up to 10,000 jobs in Switzerland alone.
Thursday’s results should show how much Credit Suisse’s headcount, which was 48,000 at the end of March, has already shrunk. Though much of staff departures so far have been voluntary, bankers are bracing themselves for waves of layoffs.
Analysts expect UBS to report net profit of $33.45bn for the second quarter, according to a poll conducted by the Swiss bank.
The huge figure largely reflects a one-off boost to the bottom line from UBS buying Credit Suisse for a fraction of its value. Analysts discount it as an example of how the complex merger can distort the true picture and say their focus will be elsewhere.
“We will be focusing more on the size, speed and scale of the restructuring programme,” Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Thomas Hallett said.
UBS is expected to release further details on a collection of unwanted Credit Suisse assets, known as the noncore unit, that includes loans, legacy assets and structured products. But there is little information about this unit and analysts hope to find out more about the size of this portfolio, how long it will take to wind down and what are the costs associated with it.
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