UBS settles US mortgage litigation

Image caption The bank's wealth management business has continued to see large inflows

UBS has reached an agreement with US housing agencies to settle claims it had mis-sold mortgage investments.

The Swiss bank said it had reached an agreement in principle with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) over the investments sold between 2004 and 2007.

In its statement, UBS also said it expected its second-quarter net profits for shareholders to total 690m Swiss francs ($734m; £480m).

UBS set aside a total of 865m francs in the quarter to cover litigation.

Of that, 100m francs is related to a deal with the UK authorities to disclose the account details of British tax evaders and hand back unpaid taxes.

The bank said that its wealth management business continued to see large inflows - totalling 10.1bn francs during the three-month period, the highest in six years.

Its US private banking business received an additional 2.7bn francs of new client money, although 2bn francs was withdrawn by clients from its asset management unit.

The influx of money comes despite the entire Swiss banking sector coming under scrutiny from foreign tax authorities and its own regulators.

UBS is currently under investigation from French and German authorities over allegations that it enabled tax evasion.

UBS's board is refocusing the bank on serving wealthy clients, slimming down its investment banking and trading operations and cutting 10,000 jobs in the process.

The decision to make the investment bank subservient to its private banking business came after a string of scandals, including heavy losses on US mortgages during the financial crisis, losses incurred by the rogue London trader Kweku Adoboli, and UBS involvement in Libor-rigging.


The deal with the FHFA relates to residential mortgage-backed securities sold during the past decade's US property bubble to federal housing agencies.

The underlying mortgages behind the investments later went bad, with many borrowers proving unable to repay their loans.

UBS is one of 18 international financial firms accused by the FHFA of mis-representing the mortgages as being better quality than they really were.

The FHFA is also representing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which had to be rescued by the US government during the 2008 financial crisis.

The settlement comes after UBS and 13 other banks failed to have an appeals court intervene in the case, following what the banks claimed were "gravely prejudicial" rulings against them.

The bank's estimated earnings were better than the 550m-575m Swiss francs that analysts had been expecting, and up from 425m francs during the same period a year ago.

Its share price rose more than 3% in early trading on Monday following the announcement.

UBS will announce its official results for the second quarter of the year on 30 July.

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