UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti Headed for Unicredit?

Sergio Ermotti, UBS CEO

Sergio Ermotti, UBS CEO

UBS’ chief executive is among candidates being touted for the top job at Unicredit following the departure of the Italian bank’s CEO. What about a different UBS top executive, who has publicly voiced his ambitions to become CEO before?

Federico Ghizzoni is throwing in the towel after six years at Unicredit, Italy’s sixth-largest bank, following pressure from major shareholders. He was felled by a 40 percent drop in Unicredit’s share price, shrinking capital ratios, and a billion-euro guarantee for what ultimately proved to be a failed capital increase.

Ermotti Touted

Milan’s financial circles are abuzz with potential candidates for the Unicredit job, including Marco Moretti, vice-president of Merrill Lynch in Europe, Mediobanca boss Alberto Nagel and — lo and behold — UBS’ Sergio Ermotti, as Austrian newspaper «Der Standard» reported.

For Ermotti, the job would be a return to the bank where he was deputy CEO from 2007 to 2010, where he was head of Corporate and Investment Banking as well as Private Banking, before losing out on the top job and joining UBS.

Ermotti knows Unicredit like the back of his hand. Thanks to UBS, he also knows how to restructure banks and bolster their capital. The Ticino-born banker would have his work cut out for him at Unicredit.

From UBS to...?

Ermotti, who has spoken passionately about his patriotic desire to restore UBS to its former glory after a series of damaging scandals, told «Corriere del Ticino» recently that the Swiss bank is «the maximum.» The 56-year-old also said that while Unicredit was a good time for him, he was enjoying his tenure at UBS.

Implicitly, Ermotti has taken himself out of the running for the Unicredit job, which would surely be less prestigious — not to mention less lucrative — than the one he holds at UBS. But what about Andrea Orcel (pictured below), another UBS top executive who has not been shy about his career plans?

Andrea Orcel 500 kopie

Orcel for Unicredit?

Orcel, currently CEO of UBS Limited and UBS’s London branch, was unusually frank last year about his ambitions to run a bank himself one day. 

As an experienced investment banker, Orcel would be the right person to tackle Unicredit’s problems. Besides downsizing the bank’s presence in 17 countries, there is also the question of a billion-euro cash call or even a merger with a rival bank.

The 53-year-old Orcel is perfectly cut out to do the job: he has spent the past four years whipping UBS’ sprawling investment bank into shape by cutting large parts of fixed income. And at Merrill Lynch, Orcel was instrumental in many major bank deals of the day, including the 2007 buyout of ABN Amro. He has also helped Unicredit to raise fresh capital before.

All told, Orcel is equipped to inherit Ghizzoni’s position. Who Unicredit ultimately chooses for the top job is reportedly set to be decided at a June 9 board meeting

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