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Briton takes charge at top Swiss bank

Luqman Arnold (left) has replaced Marcel Ospel as president of the executive board Keystone

Luqman Arnold, who comes from Britain, made history this week when he became the first non-Swiss to take over the day-to-day running of Switzerland's largest financial group, UBS.

This content was published on April 27, 2001 - 10:02

UBS shareholders appointed Arnold president of the executive board, while transferring the incumbent, Marcel Ospel, to the post of chairman of the board of directors.

Arnold, aged 51, is UBS chief financial officer and has been with the bank for the past four years.

Born in India, Arnold was educated in England and graduated from London University in 1972 with an honours degree in economics.

He had several jobs in the City of London from 1973 before joining UBS rival Credit Suisse First Boston in 1983 as a money manager. He stayed for the next nine years, helping to establish CSFB as a global player.

Arnold took a year's sabbatical in 1992, carrying out research into cross-border institutional flows before joining Paribas in London a year later.

He joined the Warburg investment arm of the Swiss Bank Corporation in 1996 as head of the Asia Pacific business. SBC merged with the Union Bank of Switzerland in 1998.

Arnold is the first Briton to rise to the head of a large European continental bank. Analysts have said that as an outsider, part of his job will be to give UBS a more international corporate culture than it has had until now.

As president of the executive board, Arnold will be the operational head of the bank and not the chief executive, a title that will disappear when Ospel becomes chairman.

This is being interpreted as a sign that UBS will have a "hands-on" chairman in the future, similar to the role played by Lukas Mühlemann at the Credit Suisse group.

However, as UBS president, Arnold will be responsible for UBS's performance and putting into practice the strategy of the board of directors. He remains chief financial officer.

The board of directors also has a more international look. Sir Peter Davis, head of J. Sainsbury, Johannes de Gier, former chairman of Warburg Dillon Read (now UBS Warburg) and Lawrence Weinbach, chairman and chief executive of Unisys, have been appointed to the board.

swissinfo with agencies

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