UBS responds to misleading CASH statements about its e-services initiative.
UBS today responded to misleading statements by the Swiss financial journal CASH, including promotional broadcasts carried on Swiss radio.
Allegations of write-offs potentially in excess of CHF 500m incurred through the firm's e-services initiative are inaccurate.
No future write-offs are planned in connection with the e-services initiative.
UBS Group established the e-services project in the third quarter of 1999 as a multichannel initiative targeting affluent European investors, not a standalone Internet bank. Following the merger with PaineWebber, the e-services strategy was reassessed and the focus shifted to more upscale clients than those originally targeted. This evolution in strategy was announced to investors and media in October 2000.
The products of the e-services initiative have since been integrated into UBS's strategy to build up its on-shore wealth management businesses in Europe. This successor strategy is now well under way.
The total operating expenses of e-services amounted to CHF 320m in 2000, and CHF 39m in 1999. These expenses included investments in operations infrastructure and the installation and testing of systems platforms now redeployed.
Those parts of the e-services infrastructure that were relevant to a mass affluent market, such as telephone call-centers, have been closed and the investment in them written off, resulting in a charge of CHF 80m in general and administrative expenses in fourth quarter 2000. In addition, capitalized software costs relating to parts of the systems which will not now be used were written off, resulting in a CHF 72m depreciation charge, also in fourth quarter 2000.
UBS disclosed the e-services initiative as a separate business unit on a quarterly basis throughout 2000, and was consistently transparent about its progress.
UBS continues to invest broadly in new client technologies in order to maintain its widely recognised leadership role in this area.
Zurich/Basel, 3 May 2001
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