‘George Clooney’ returns as UBS CEO; who is Sergio Ermotti?


UBS has appointed Sergio Ermotti, former CEO, as the Group Chief Executive Officer and President of the Group Executive Board, to lead the acquisition of Credit Suisse. Ermotti, who is known as the “George Clooney of Paradeplatz,” has a reputation for his turnaround of UBS following the global financial crisis of 2008. He left UBS in 2020 and became the chairman of Swiss Re in 2021.

“The board of directors of UBS have appointed Sergio P. Ermotti as Group Chief Executive Officer and President of the Group Executive Board, effective on 5 April 2023,” the company said in an earlier statement.

The Swiss banker started his career at Corner private bank in Lugano when he was 15 years old, and after a stint at Citigroup, he joined Merrill Lynch, rising through the ranks from 1987 to 2004. Ermotti completed his training with the advanced management programme at Oxford University. He then joined UniCredit, where he headed the markets and investment banking division. Ermotti was then entrusted with the CEO role at UBS, where he served from 2011 to 2020.

Also Read: UBS Chairman’s top-secret prep paid off in Credit Suisse moment

The Swiss government, central bank, and financial regulators forced UBS to buy Credit Suisse for $3.25 billion after its share price plummeted on March 15, causing fears of a growing banking crisis. The merger of the two biggest banks in Switzerland prompted the UBS board to turn once more to Ermotti, believing him to be a better pilot than the current Dutch CEO Ralph Hamers to navigate the new flight path.

According to UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher, Ermotti is well-suited to lead the acquisition of Credit Suisse because he has experience in handling difficult situations and putting out fires. Ermotti himself said he feels a sense of responsibility to return to UBS and oversee the merger, which is expected to be very challenging.

Also Read: ‘Your money is no longer safe in Switzerland,’ Credit Suisse ex-employee says at shareholders meet

Ermotti will have to merge two institutions that were both among the 30 banks around the world deemed of global importance to the banking system. UBS came under criticism following its bailout by the state during the 2008 financial crisis.

The UBS board believes Ermotti is a better pilot to navigate the acquisition of Credit Suisse. The merger has triggered unease in Switzerland, with choice for customers and small businesses seriously reduced. Ermotti will have to lead the somewhat forced marriage with care.

(With agency inputs)

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