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BERN, Switzerland (


) -- The Swiss government today will begin selling its stake in



, just one day after the bank agreed to release 4,450 names to the U.S. government's yearlong tax-evasion probe.

A consortium of banks has been asked to place the government's 332.2 million mandatory convertible notes with institutional investors. The sale should be completed Thursday, the government said.

The move came within hour of the Swiss government's announcement that it had reached agreement with the United States to

disclose the names of 4,450 American clients suspected of hiding assets in Swiss accounts

. The move appears to herald an end to the era of the legendarily discrete "Swiss bank account," long the haven of both real-life ne'er-do-wells and James Bond supervillains.

UBS shares closed at 16.74 Swiss francs ($15.70) on the Zurich exchange Wednesday, valuing the government stake at around 5.56 billion francs ($5.22 billion).

The government said the sale would more than recoup its 6 billion-franc investment in the bank last October -- part of a $42 billion rescue package for the former financial powerhouse hard hit by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and the ensuing global economic downturn.

-- Written by Ty Wenger in New York

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