UBS weighs sale of fund platform in asset management revamp

“You want on the one hand to keep getting a relatively decent yield from your investments, but also protect your portfolio against short-term bouts of volatility," said Maximilian Kunkel, chief investment officer for Germany at UBS Wealth Management.
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UBS’ asset management unit is considering a sale of its fund platform, as new head Suni Harford tries to turn around the underperforming division, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Switzerland’s largest bank has been talking to potential buyers for the business, known as UBS Fondcenter, in recent weeks, according to the people. A possible sale could fetch at least $506 million, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.

UBS Fondcenter provides access to over 65,000 funds from hundreds of providers of mutual funds, ETFs and alternative investment funds. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.

The Swiss bank has been exploring options for its asset management business over the past year including a merger with Deutsche Bank’s DWS. After going through a restructuring under former chief Ulrich Koerner, the unit repeatedly missed a key profitability target. Like other bank-owned asset managers, the division is under pressure from new regulations such as MIFID II and a protracted shift toward passive investing.

The sale of Fondcenter could be another step to improve profitability at the asset management unit. UBS’s biggest competitor, Credit Suisse, did a similar deal earlier this year when it combined its fund platform InvestLab with private equity-backed Allfunds.

Iqbal Khan, Credit Suisse’s international wealth management head at the time, was personally negotiating the deal shortly before he left the Swiss bank and joined UBS. — Additional reporting by Marion Halftermeyer

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