ZURICH/PARIS (Reuters) - UBS’s UBSN.VX French arm is planning to restructure its asset management business and is in consultation with unions over possible layoffs, as the Swiss bank continues to sharpen its focus on private banking.
The Zurich-based bank’s strategy to focus primarily on private banking has helped reinforce its position as the world’s largest wealth manager. As part of this drive, the bank is considering shaking up its asset management unit in France.
“A reorganization is planned for (UBS subsidiary) CCR Asset Management,” a spokeswoman for UBS France said on Monday. “In this framework a consultation process with staff representative bodies is ongoing.”
UBS is carrying out negotiations with these bodies over a social plan — a type of redundancy program. Such a plan is discussed with unions when a company plans to lay off more than 10 people, according to French law.
The spokeswoman said the consultation process was still ongoing and therefore she could not go into further details on the changes.
The restructuring is not related to the bank’s recent legal troubles in France, the spokeswoman said.
Investigating magistrates have proposed that UBS pay a fine of 4.88 billion euros ($6.13 billion) in an investigation into whether the Swiss bank helped wealthy French individuals dodge tax, according to a judicial source.
The restructuring was first reported on Monday by French business newsletter, La Lettre de l’Expansion, which said it would also affect UBS’s French private banking and investment banking arms.
The UBS spokeswoman said there were no significant projects, such as the social plan, on the agenda for those divisions.
Reporting by Joshua Franklin in Zurich and Maya Nikolaeva in Paris, editing by Pravin Char