UBS on Tuesday reported a small third-quarter net profit of 577 million Swiss francs, compared to 690 million the previous quarter and a net loss of 2.124 billion francs in the third quarter of 2012, which resulted from goodwill impairment charges. During the most recent quarter, net trading income was down 69% sequentially and 33% year-over-year, to 543 million francs, while net fee and commission income was down 10% sequentially and 2% year-over-year, to $3.831 billion francs.
The company reported a third-quarter return on tangible equity of 5.9%.
UBS reported $586 million in third-quarter provisions for litigation, regulatory and similar matters, compared to $658 million in the second quarter and $239 million in the third quarter of 2012.The company also hinted at major trouble ahead, announcing that after "an initial media report in June 2013 of widespread irregularities in the foreign exchange markets" it had started a review of its foreign exchange business and that it was cooperating in regulatory investigations. UBS also announced it had "taken and will take appropriate action with respect to certain personnel as a result of our review, which is ongoing." UBS's actions against employees were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. UBS has said that among its major goals is to reduce its risk-weighted assets (RWA). A bank's RWA is the denominator for key regulatory capital ratios. The company reported that over the past four quarters it has reduced its RWA by 80 billion francs, or 27%, while reducing its total balance sheet by 300 billion francs. But there was bad news as well. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) in October ordered "a temporary 50% add-on" to the company's operational risk RWA "in relation to unknown litigation," according to USB. This has the effect of temporarily increasing RWA by 28 billion francs. Along with the continued elevation of litigation and regulatory expenses, the RWA hiccup and the foreign exchange investigation, UBS said that "without the complete removal of the temporary add-on if RWA, its goal of achieving a 15% return on equity (ROE) in 2015 "will be delayed by at least one year."
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