Dow Jones

ZURICH - The Swiss banking group UBS AG said Tuesday that it will publish preliminary third-quarter earnings a month early to ensure maximum transparency during the closing of its merger with U.S. brokerage Paine Webber Group Inc.

UBS will report "flash" third-quarter earnings on Thursday. A detailed third-quarter earnings report will be published as planned on Nov. 28.

Analysts said there is no hidden agenda in the company's early release of the reports.

"Nothing too sinister in it," said Brian Crossley, an analyst at ABN Amro in London. "What would have been sinister for PaineWebber shareholders would have been waiting until the original date."

In a specially convened meeting Monday, PaineWebber shareholders representing 123.1 million shares, or 99.29% of those ballots cast, voted in favor of the $12.4 billion merger.

"I am extremely pleased that such a substantial majority of PaineWebber shareholders has endorsed our merger," UBS chief executive Marcel Ospel said.

Investors will watch closely for any comments on investment banking. Last week rival Chase Manhattan Corp. reported a 24% drop in third-quarter earnings, citing weakness in its venture capital and investment banking divisions. Banking stocks worldwide suffered badly in the wake of that report.

Chances are that UBS will be less affected than other banks, because it has little junk bond exposure and limited exposure to the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors, said Marie-Luce Telley, an analyst at the private bank Mirabeud & Cie in Geneva.

Madeleine Hoffmann, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, said, "It's a complete misperception that the third quarter was so bad for investment banks." She said she expects UBS to report a third- UBS to Post Early; Cites PaineWebber quarter net profit of $1.17 billion, up from $1.14 billion in the second quarter.

UBS' comments on asset growth and net inflow of money, in which it has lagged its rivals the past two years, will also be scrutinized.

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