Knight Vinke Seeks UBS I-Bank Spin-Off

May 3 2013 | 9:38am ET

Activist hedge fund Knight Vinke Asset Management is pushing to split one of Switzerland's largest banks.

The Monaco-based firm, in a letter to UBS staff and shareholders yesterday, argued that UBS' investment-bank should be spun-off from its Swiss banking and wealth management business. The hedge fund said it "questioned the merits" of keeping the businesses "under the same roof" and suggested that the investment bank's employees and management might be its best owners.

"The investment bank has delivered a good set of results for the first quarter of 2013 but nearly destroyed UBS in 2007-09," Knight Vinke wrote. "Investment banking is a very risky business and these risks pose a serious threat to UBS' wealth management and Swiss banking franchise."

Knight Vinke owns just under 1% of UBS.

The hedge fund's letter coincides with UBS' annual general meeting, where CEO Sergio Ermotti said, "We are rebuilding UBS."

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