Europe's biggest financial institution, UBS AG, reported a record first-quarter net income increase of 15% on the strength of its wealth management division, Bloomberg reports. The group's positive performance helped offset a 19% decrease in earnings in the company's investment banking unit.
The Swiss bank said first-quarter net-income rose to CH2.63 billion ($2.19 billion), or CH2.48 a share, from CH2.28 billion, or CH2.05, which easily exceeded analyst forecasts.
The company's aggressive acquisition campaign of private banks, conducted by CEO Peter Wuffli, cost $1 billion, making UBS the world's largest wealth manager.
"We believe renewed earnings growth can only be achieved via a major acquisition," said Jacques-Henri Gaulard, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, who rates UBS neutral. The firm plans to continue its strategy of small buyouts while restraining from any major acquisitions, company CFO Clive Standish reaffirmed in the earnings report.
The bank reported positive performance among the entire spectrum of its money management business. Earnings at UBS's institutional fund rose by 51 percent to CH224 million; the company's private bank earning climbed by 6% to CH915 million; and earnings on the retail side swelled by 5%.
In addition, UBS's merger advisory unit reported more business in the first three months of the year and now ranks fifth among its peers.