UBS Q4 profit jumps 137% as bank reaps rich rewards

The bank plans to buy back some US$1.1 billion of shares this quarter. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ZURICH (REUTERS) - UBS on Tuesday (Jan 26) posted a 137 per cent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, as high levels of client activity helped the world's largest wealth manager end 2020 on a strong note.

Fourth-quarter net profit of US$1.71 billion (S$2.27 billion) far outstripped median expectations for US$966 million in a poll of 20 analysts compiled by the bank.

"Our strong 2020 results clearly demonstrate the true strength of our franchise," chief executive Ralph Hamers said.

Hamers, the former CEO of ING, took over from long-time UBS boss Sergio Ermotti in November.

Strong lending and trading amongst its wealthy and ultra-wealthy clients, coupled with a surge in investment banking activity, helped Switzerland's biggest bank boost profits by 54 per cent for the full year.

It said its board intended to propose a dividend of US$0.37 per share to shareholders, while the bank plans to buy back some US$1.1 billion of shares this quarter.

It will be launching a new three-year buyback programme of up to 4 billion Swiss francs (S$5.98 billion), as well as wrapping up an existing one, as it adjusts shareholder returns to favour buybacks more strongly than in the past.

Follow ST on LinkedIn and stay updated on the latest career news, insights and more.