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UBS resists calls to speed up appointment of new chairman

• Axel Weber due to replace Kaspar Villiger in 2013
• Questions surround resignation of chief executive Oswald Grübel

UBS was described as being in “disarray” after the sudden resignation of its chief executive on Saturday prompted calls for further changes at the top of the Swiss bank, in the wake of .3bn (£1.5bn) of losses from alleged rogue trading.

A shareholder group said Axel Weber, the former Bundesbank boss who is to become chairman of UBS in 2013, should be brought in immediately after chief executive Oswald Grübel quit. Weber is to replace the current chairman, Kaspar Villiger, who has insisted the chief executive and chairman should not be replaced at the same time.

The surprise departure of Grübel – a 67-year-old German who came out of retirement to turn around UBS in 2009 – was met by questions on Monday. Despite the bank’s insistence that the board had tried to persuade to him to stay, there was speculation that he had been forced out.

The timing of his departure, which took immediate effect on Saturday, caused some concern.

Chris Wheeler, analyst at Mediobanca, said: “While we would not question the seriousness of the trading losses, we are not convinced this merited the departure of a well-respected CEO at such a difficult time.”

He added: “We understand the board is claiming it did try to persuade Ossie Grübel to stay. However, if that is the case they obviously failed and that could have negative consequences. We now have the fourth CEO since July 2007. With a new finance director just settling in, the bank appears to be in disarray at a crucial time in its history.”

There were reports that Weber was trying to extricate himself from the “cooling-off” period imposed by the Bundesbank and speed up his move to UBS. However, Villiger told a Swiss newspaper on Sunday: “It’s not ideal when the CEO and chairman step down at the same time. This way, Axel Weber has an opportunity to become well acquainted with the job. He will be living in Switzerland and familiarising himself with the Swiss character. We see no reason to change this plan [of him becoming chairman in 2013].”

Shareholder group Ethos urged Weber to join the board quickly while Dominic Auld, a securities litigation expert at the US law firm Labaton Sucharow, said that he was “looking at” any cause for action by investors against UBS, after the fall of more than 10% in its shares on the day it admitted it had uncovered “unauthorised trading”.

UBS expects to complete its formal internal investigation into the losses in the coming 10 days. Kweku Adoboli, 31, the trader facing charges of false accounting and fraud in connection with the .3bn losses, is in custody and is yet to enter a plea. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds