UBS makes major reshuffle at top of wealth management unit

Ex-Credit Suisse Group banker Iqbal Khan is joining the firm as part of a major reshuffle that will see him take over control of the key wealth management business.
Ex-Credit Suisse Group banker Iqbal Khan is joining the firm as part of a major reshuffle that will see him take over control of the key wealth management business.PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH (BLOOMBERG) - UBS Group AG said ex-Credit Suisse Group banker Iqbal Khan is joining the firm as part of a major reshuffle that will see him take over control of the key wealth management business with Tom Naratil, as Martin Blessing exits.

Blessing, 56, a former chief executive officer of Germany's Commerzbank, will leave the bank at the end of the year, according to a statement from Zurich-based UBS on Thursday (Aug 29). As part of the changes, Suni Harford will take over asset management from Ulrich Koerner while Sabine Keller-Busse takes over as President of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Blessing's departure had been widely expected after the global wealth management unit posted erratic results since the two former wealth businesses were combined into a single unit last year. Clients pulled US$1.7 billion from the unit in the second quarter, where earnings were lower than expected.

Blessing had earlier been seen as a contender to ultimately succeed chief executive officer Sergio Ermotti when he was appointed after about eight years in charge at Germany's No 2 bank, cementing his reputation by shrinking the bank's pile of bad loans and restoring the dividend. At UBS he was known for a more formal approach that was seen as less effective in a business focused on servicing the needs of the world's wealthy.

Khan's departure from Credit Suisse in July ended months of speculation about his future at the bank and relationship with CEO Tidjane Thiam. He joined the bank in his late 30s after a rapid ascent through the ranks of Ernst & Young's Zurich-based assurance division, where he audited UBS Group. He joined Credit Suisse in 2013 and was named head of the bank's international wealth-management unit when it was created.