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Tue, Jan 13, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Top Swiss bank UBS to announce biggest loss ever

HARD TIMES The bank was heavily exposed to the US subprime mortgage sector and more recently clients have withdrawn 83.6 billion Swiss francs

AFP , GENEVA

Switzerland’s biggest bank is to announce the biggest loss in the country’s history, running into billions of dollars, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

It said that UBS would record an overall loss for last year of 20 billion Swiss francs (US$18 billion), in spite of showing a profit of SF296 million in the third quarter, when it reports results on Feb. 10.

The Sonntag said the bank had racked up SF8 billion in losses in the final quarter of last year, bringing the total for the year to SF20 billion.

UBS admitted in the autumn when it announced third quarter results that the global financial crisis had hit it hard and warned it could lose up to SF5 billion in the final quarter.

UBS was heavily exposed to risky US subprime mortgage business and had to write down almost US$47 billion in share values.

In recent months, clients have taken fright and withdrawn a total of SF83.6 billion. The Swiss government intervened in October with a rescue plan of US$60 billion.

Since then, the bank has been hit by the Ponzi scheme of US fraudster Bernard Madoff and the failure of the US subsidiary of the Dutch group LyondellBasell.

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