UBS draws fine line around Connecticut in layoff spree

Thu Nov 1, 2012 6:14pm EDT
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By Jed Horowitz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - UBS AG UBSN.VX may be wielding an ax over 10,000 employees, but at least 2,000 workers in the state of Connecticut will survive.

Switzerland's biggest bank, which announced the layoffs last week along with a plan to virtually eliminate its bond trading business, has a massive trading floor in Stamford, Conn., comprised primarily people who trade and sell bonds.

Several fixed-income employees in Stamford and New York City were fired by phone this week because the devastating storm Sandy that hit the region on Monday prevented them from traveling to their offices, a UBS spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Still, UBS and Connecticut officials said that the Swiss bank will carefully work to ensure that a sizeable staff remains working in that state east of New York.

At stake is a $20 million interest-free development loan that UBS got from the state in May. The bank signed a contract committing to keeping at least 2,000 people employed in the state, and has agreed to forgive the loan after five years if all terms of their contract are met.

"I have been assured that the layoffs will be structured in such a way that UBS will be able to meet the obligations it has under the agreement," Catherine Smith, commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development told Reuters. "We feel relatively comfortable about it."

UBS spokeswoman Katrina Byrne declined to discuss the nature of the jobs that will remain in Connecticut but said more than 3,500 bank employees now work in the state. "We are honoring our commitment," she said.

Smith said she checked with UBS this week after reading press reports that some 3,000 employees around Stamford would lose their jobs.   Continued...

The offices of Swiss bank UBS are seen in the financial district of the City of London October 31, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Helgren