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UBS Group shareholders: Who owns the company that is acquiring troubled bank Credit Suisse?

By Jenny McCall

14:20, 20 March 2023

An image of the UBS office in London
Who are the UBS Group shareholders? - Photo: Getty Images

After speculation and worry about a banking crisis, Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS (UBSG) agreed on 19 March to buy its problem stricken Swiss rival Credit Suisse (CS) in an emergency takeover deal worth 3bn Swiss francs (or $3.25bn).

In this article, we take a look at the biggest UBS shareholders to better understand the company's structure. 

What is UBS Group?

UBS Group AG is a global financial services bank based in Switzerland, considered one of the world’s largest and most respected investment banks, providing financial services to private, corporate and institutional clients. In 1862, the Union Bank of Switzerland was founded in Zurich. In 1997, the bank merged with the Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) to become UBS AG. 

UBS offers services in wealth management, investment banking, asset management and retail banking. Its wealth management division is worth over $2.6trn in assets under management (AUM), according to ADV ratings. The bank's investment banking division offers services in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, equity and debt capital markets.

The bank has a large global presence, with offices in more than 50 countries worldwide and has since grown and become a prominent and well-respected financial institution.

Ralph Hamers has been Group CEO of UBS Group AG and President of the Executive Board of UBS AG since November 2020, after joining UBS as Group Executive Board member in September 2020.

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UBS takes over Credit Suisse

On 19 March, UBS executives announced that it will take over the troubled investment bank Credit Suisse in a deal worth over $3.2bn. The group said it plans to move “fast” in winding down Credit Suisse’s investment banking. UBS also said it has taken reserves against Credit Suisse’s very high-profile litigation issues.

Shares in UBS plummeted by 16% in early trading on 20 March, the day after the takeover was announce, and the most since September 2008. Year-to-date, the stock has lost 5%.

UBS (UBSG) chart

The UBS/Credit Suisse deal, which some have called a "shotgun wedding," shows that shareholders are no longer in charge, as the Swiss government changed the law in order for the deal to reach completion and in a bid to create short-term stability for the global banking sector but creating long-term questions around shareholder rights. 

Swiss regulators also confirmed that the owners of $17bn worth of "additional tier one" bonds, which are a risker class of debt, will lose everything. This means that Swiss families who have invested millions in Credit Suisse will be removed without a say. 

Credit Suisse shareholders will receice the equivalent of just 0.76 Swiss francs in UBS shares for stock that was worth 1.86 Swiss francs on 17 March.

International regulators' reaction to the deal 

“We welcome the announcements by the Swiss authorities today to support financial stability,” said US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, in a joint statement.

“The capital and liquidity positions of the US. banking system are strong, and the US financial system is resilient.”

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank said: “I welcome the swift action and the decisions taken by the Swiss authorities. They are instrumental for restoring orderly market conditions and ensuring financial stability.”

The Bank of England also confirmed that it welcomed the decision of the Swiss authoritys “to support financial stability.”

Andreas Venditti, senior equity analyst at bei Bank Vontobel explained: "Thanks to the transaction, the collapse of CS has been avoided. This would have had massive consequences for the Swiss economy, the Swiss financial centre, and UBS as well. UBS pays CHF 3 bn for a business that was valued multiples of that just a few weeks ago.”

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“In addition, it has secured important loss protections. However, there are many uncertainties and significant risks. The UBS investment case changes substantially. The issues currently impacting the global banking sector are not over."

Goldman Sachs's analyst Lotfi Karoui said: "For credit markets, the read-through is twofold: In both the USD and EUR markets, the excess premium that investors had been demanding to hold European bank credit risk now has room to compress."

"We argued that the performance of the broader European banking sector would remain pressured until clarity is provided on Credit Suisse’s future path and recommended moving to a neutral allocation on banks in the EUR market (from overweight previously). This outcome provides such clarity.”

So, who are the shareholders of UBS Group and who owns the most shares of UBS Group?

Who are the shareholders of UBS?

According to data from Simply Wall Street, UBS Group biggest shareholders are institutional investors, who own approximately 54% of UBS shares. 45.7% of shares are owned by the general public, which individual insiders own 0.3% and private companies – 0.007%.

Institutional vs retail investors

Institutional and retail are different types of investors, who have different investment objectives, strategies and portfolio sizes.

Institutional investors manage large pools of money on behalf of investors, such as insurance companies, pension funds, mutual funds, and endowments. Retail investors, on the other hand, are those who tends to invest in financial markets using their own money. They tend to invest smaller amounts than institutional investors and have different goals and risk tolerance levels.

It's important for retail investors to know who owns the most shares in a company as it could provide valuable information and insight into the overall health and stability of the business. Large institutional investors have significant influence over a company’s strategic direction, operations and they may push for changes that could impact the company’s financial performance. If a large institutional investor owns a significant portion of a company shares, it could indicate that the investor has confidence in the its prospects. In the meantime, if an institutional investor starts to sell off shares it could be a sign of concern about the company’s future.

Often, retail investors who end up buying or selling shares in a company that has large institutional investors could help move the share price up or down, so they have an impact on the market.

According to data from SEC filings by UBS, the following UBSG shareholders hold the most shares in the investment back and own 3% or more, according to the latest filing on 31 December 2022:

Shareholder

Number of shares held

Chase Nominees Ltd.

302,947,749

DTC (Cede & Co.)

251,014,771

BlackRock Inc.184,188,641

Nortrust Nominees Ltd.

152,567,310

Artisan Partners Limited Partnership

121,591,630

Norges Bank

115,997,262

Massachusetts Financial Services Company

116,145,996

Dodge & Cox International Stock Fund

111,816,261

Below is a brief overview of the top five UBS Group major shareholders:

  • Chase Nominees Ltd: A UK-based company that provides nominee services for clients who wish to hold securities without having their names disclosed on public records. Nominee services involve holding securities on behalf of clients, with the legal ownership of the securities remaining with clients, while the nominee company holds them on their behalf.
  • DTC (Cede & Co.): A Depository Trust Company, a large clearing house that holds shares in its name for banks, brokers and institutions in order to expedite the sale and transfer of stock. Cede & Co. is a nominee name used by DTC when it holds securities on behalf of its participants, which include brokers, banks and other financial institutions.
  • Nortrust Nominees Ltd: A private investment firm based at London, United Kingdom. Established in 1969, the company provides financial and custodial services to clients. It operates as a subsidiary of Northern Trust. The assets are managed by the executive management team.
  • Norges Bank: A central bank of Norway and  also manages the Government Pension Fund Global.
  • Artisan Partners Limited Partnership: A global investment management firm that “provides a broad range of high value-added investment strategies in growing asset classes to sophisticated clients around the world.”

UBS SEC filing stated that “the number of shares of UBS AG held by UBS Group AG as of 31 December 2022 was 3,858,408,466".

UBS Group is an investment bank that is not unfamiliar with M&A’s so this latest development with Credit Suisse is hardly uncharted territory for the bank. Over the years it has merged with banks itself and also assisted in many acquisitions. As news breaks around the global financial world about this latest deal and UBS' bid to save the troubled bank, shareholders may be thinking about what the future holds.

UBS shareholders are highly influential. Many institutional organisations have large stakes in the bank and will be looking keenly over the coming months and years to see how this latest deal pans out. Retail investors will also be likely watching eagerly to see the movements of the large insititional investors to assess the strength of UBS as a bank, in the short-term and long-term. 

The bottom line

Knowing who owns the most shares of UBSG stock can help in understanding the company's objectives. Big investors can have influence over the company.

However, it should not be the key reason for your decision to buy a stock. Whether USB Group is a good investment should depend on your investment goals, risk tolerance and the size of your portfolio. It is important to do your own research before making any investment or trading decision. And never invest or trade money that you cannot afford to lose. 

How many UBS Group shares are there?

According to Simply Wall Street, there were 3.11 billion UBSG shares outsnatidng as of 20 March 2023.

How many shareholders does UBS Group have?

UBS Group has many shareholders, divided between institutional, individual (retail), the general public and private companies. According to the company's website, shareholders who own over 3% or more as of 20 March 2023 include Chase Nominees Ltd, DTC (Cede & Co.), Nortrust Nominees Ltd., Norges Bank, Artisan Partners Limited Partnership, Massachusetts Financial Services Company, Dodge & Cox International Stock Fund, and BlackRock Inc.

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The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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