Drama today among the banks. First we had a dreadful profit warning from UBS. It said it had suffered heavy fixed income losses and that the group chief executive, Marcel Rohner, would take charge of the investment banking division from Huw Jenkins, who led the expansion into fixed income but whose background is in equities. Also, 1,500 jobs would go, the bank said.
UBS shares, which fell 2 per cent first thing, are now up more than 1 per cent. Does this prove that markets like certainty, however grim? Some were simply encouraged by the cost-cutting and management revamp. Others may wonder if the profit warning makes UBS a takeover target (even if none of the obvious buyers is exactly in great shape either).
Lunchtime brought a warning from Citigroup that its third-quarter net income would drop around 60 per cent as a result of problems in the credit market. This doesn’t look good for Citi’s boss, Chuck “still dancing” Prince. However, Citi is unlikely to be alone. Will Merrill Lynch be next? Or JP Morgan Chase? Several European banks are taking a knock.
Sly Bailey has had to admit defeat in her attempt to sell a group of regional papers, including the Birmingham Post. The chief executive of Trinity Mirror has also had to sell the Racing Post for less than she hoped. The result is that her disposal programme has raised less than half what the company had hoped. Today, she’s blaming the credit markets. But as our piece about mid-market buy-outs explained this morning, her end of the market is alive and well. The gossip was that Ms Bailey wanted to step down from Trinity with a bang. This is barely a whimper.
Good news from FirstGroup, which says it no longer needs a £175m rights issue to help fund its acquisition of the Laidlaw US bus business.
Disaster, though, for Vernalis, the biotech group once known as British Biotech. Its shares halved today after it said the FDA failed to approve a migraine drug. The company wants to talk to shareholders about raising more cash.