Swiss mulling sale of UBS stake

June 10, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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BBC News

The Swiss government has said it is in talks about selling its investment in the country’s biggest bank, UBS.

In October it gave UBS 6bn Swiss francs ($5.5bn; £3.4bn) in exchange for notes that could be converted into a 9.3% stake in the bank.

The government’s lock-in period, when it was not allowed to convert the notes into UBS shares, ended on Tuesday.

The government said it had not yet decided whether to convert the notes or sell them on.

It reiterated that it planned to be a UBS investor for a limited period only and that its priorities were the stability of the financial system and recouping taxpayers’ money.

UBS sought government help after investments in risky US assets forced it to make billions of francs in write-downs and led to it posting the biggest annual loss in Swiss corporate history last year.

There have been signs of other governments recouping some of their bail-out money recently.

The US government is set to announce which banks may pay back money given to them under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (Tarp).

In Britain, Lloyds Banking Group is paying back £2.3bn of government bail-out money.