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UBS Closes Wholesale Unit

Correspondent unit also closing

November 19, 2007


photo of Patrick Crowley

UBS AG, a worldwide financial services giant that analysts say is preparing for a big write down, is closing it U.S.-based wholesale mortgage business.

The scuttling of UBS Home Finance, which employs 44, is part of a "previously announced realignment" of the company's Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities Group, company spokeswoman Kelly Smith has confirmed to

Smith would not divulge the unit's loan production.

UBS, which is based in Switzerland but has a large domestic presence, said UBS Mortgage, its retail operation, will stay open. It provides "residential mortgage products" to clients of its wealth management division, the company said.

UBS is leaving the wholesale/correspondent for the same reason as others in the industry -- the inability to make money.

"We have determined that the wholesale mortgage origination business -- and correspondent lending operation -- is not a business that we can operate on a cost efficient basis given current market conditions," Smith said, reading a company approved statement. "As a result, we will close UBS Home Finance."

UBS Home Finance stopped accepted new loan applications last week, Smith said.

Earlier this month UBS reported a pretax operating loss of $626 million for the third quarter. The main culprit was the $3.6 billion in negative revenues the Swiss investment firm's fixed income, currencies and commodities business experienced from "substantial losses and write downs" in trading positions related to the U.S. subprime residential mortgage-backed securities market.

On Monday stock analysts in the U.S. and Europe were reporting that they anticipate the company taking a large multi-billion write down tied to its losses of asset and mortgage backed securities.

Patrick Crowley is a feature journalist and blogger for He is also a reporter, blogger and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer.
e-mail Patrick at: [email protected]

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