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UBS chairman sees a brighter future for bank

UBS will return to profitability next year, the Swiss banking giant's chairman, Peter Kurer, has told the Basler Zeitung newspaper.

Kurer also said the firm’s investment banking division – subject to speculation about a sell-off – was an essential element of the business, but added that it could go if it meant bringing shareholders more money.

“I cannot keep an investment bank if it is perhaps good for the financial community but bad for UBS,” he told the newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.

“I have to do what is best for the shareholders,” he added.

On Tuesday, UBS announced it would be separating its three major business units. “None of the business units are for sale,” Kurer stressed.

Kurer also said that an upcoming economic slowdown would hit the bank less hard than the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the United States did. Business in the US accounts for around 40 per cent of the bank’s turnover and employees.

UBS has written down around $37 billion (SFr40.6 billion) on subprime mortgage losses.

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