And the former president of UBS, which has been hammered by two write-downs of at least $18 billion apiece, is now calling—in a shareholder-activist campaign—for the Swiss banking giant to be broken up. Come on, guy. That’s not very sporting for a former exec. Aren’t these things best handled behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms? The WSJ’s C1 Heard on the Street column:
For British investor Luqman Arnold, the fight will mark a rematch with the bank that forced him out in 2001 after a dispute over governance and how much power he would have. Among Mr. Arnold’s proposals: UBS should legally separate its investment bank from its private-client bank and consider selling the investment bank; sell its asset-management business to raise money; and remove the chairman it named just Tuesday, according to a letter Mr. Arnold sent to UBS Thursday night.
The surprise attack from Mr. Arnold, chairman of London investment firm Olivant Advisers Ltd., promises to increase acrimony inside UBS, which has gutted its leadership since becoming one of the hardest-hit banks in the credit crisis.
The WSJ gets our Quote of the Day for this gem, pointing out what seems obvious when you point it out:
“It’s hard to make a case to someone wealthy that you can manage their money well when you’ve just lost $37 billion yourself,” said Dirk Hoffmann-Becking, an analyst at Bernstein Research in London.
Consumer woes mount
In economic news, tapped-out consumers are having more and more trouble paying their bills. The NYT puts on C2 a Reuters report that the percentage of delinquent consumer loans rose to a sixteen-year high in the fourth quarter.