The Swiss banking giant UBS AG on Thursday outlined its plan to target the growing number of affluent investors in Europe by leveraging the capabilities of PaineWebber Inc., which it acquired in November.

Speaking during the banking company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, Joseph Grano, formerly president of PaineWebber and now president of UBS Warburg’s private client and asset management group, said it would seek investors with more than $450,000 to invest.

“All over the world money is concentrating in the most affluent segment, and total wealth is set to rise 70% by the year 2005,” said Mr. Grano, who also sits on UBS’ seven-member executive board.

Last year there was $16.8 trillion of investable assets in Europe, and that figure is expected to nearly double by 2005, to over $30 trillion, Mr. Grano said. And with the percentage of those investable assets held by the affluent also expected to grow to 43% from 35%, Europe presents a ripe opportunity, he said.

Therefore Zurich-based UBS AG, which already has a significant private banking component, will expand and focus on the five richest European countries — Germany, Britain, Spain, Italy, and France — that hold 82% of Europe’s affluent, Mr. Grano said.

He spoke after UBS chief executive Marcel Ospel reported a 36% jump in fourth-quarter earnings from a year earlier, to $860 million. However, the banking company said that charges associated with the acquisition of PaineWebber caused profits to decline 8% from the third quarter.

Mr. Ospel said that he is happy with the integration of PaineWebber, and that he believes it will help UBS compete as an investment firm outside Switzerland.

“UBS has the world’s biggest private bank,” and now it has one of the biggest U.S. brokerages, he said.

With the acquisition, UBS can compete with the some of the big global investment firms, Mr. Ospel said. “We benchmark ourselves along the lines of Merrill, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse.”

However, Mr. Ospel said that UBS has no desire to parlay its “Swiss heritage as a universal bank” onto the global stage and become a bank with a big international presence, like Citigroup Inc. or HSBC Holdings PLC.

James Hyde, a London-based equity analyst with Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc., said it remains to be seen whether UBS can capture high-net-worth assets in Europe.

However, “they seem to have the clearest approach of all the ones targeting the pan-European approach,” he said.

UBS Maps Europe Asset Campaign For PaineWebber

 BY NIAMH RING

The Swiss banking giant UBS AG on Thursday outlined its plan to target the growing number of affluent investors in Europe by leveraging the capabilities of PaineWebber Inc., which it acquired in November.

Speaking during the banking company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, Joseph Grano, formerly president of PaineWebber and now president of UBS Warburg’s private client and asset management group, said it would seek investors with more than $450,000 to invest.

“All over the world money is concentrating in the most affluent segment, and total wealth is set to rise 70% by the year 2005,” said Mr. Grano, who also sits on UBS’ seven-member executive board.

Last year there was $16.8 trillion of investable assets in Europe, and that figure is expected to nearly double by 2005, to over $30 trillion, Mr. Grano said. And with the percentage of those investable assets held by the affluent also expected to grow to 43% from 35%, Europe presents a ripe opportunity, he said.

Therefore Zurich-based UBS AG, which already has a significant private banking component, will expand and focus on the five richest European countries — Germany, Britain, Spain, Italy, and France — that hold 82% of Europe’s affluent, Mr. Grano said.

He spoke after UBS chief executive Marcel Ospel reported a 36% jump in fourth-quarter earnings from a year earlier, to $860 million. However, the banking company said that charges associated with the acquisition of PaineWebber caused profits to decline 8% from the third quarter.

Mr. Ospel said that he is happy with the integration of PaineWebber, and that he believes it will help UBS compete as an investment firm outside Switzerland.

“UBS has the world’s biggest private bank,” and now it has one of the biggest U.S. brokerages, he said.

With the acquisition, UBS can compete with the some of the big global investment firms, Mr. Ospel said. “We benchmark ourselves along the lines of Merrill, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse.”

However, Mr. Ospel said that UBS has no desire to parlay its “Swiss heritage as a universal bank” onto the global stage and become a bank with a big international presence, like Citigroup Inc. or HSBC Holdings PLC.

James Hyde, a London-based equity analyst with Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc., said it remains to be seen whether UBS can capture high-net-worth assets in Europe.

However, “they seem to have the clearest approach of all the ones targeting the pan-European approach,” he said.

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