B of A's Loss Turns Out to Be UBS's Gain

UBS (NYS: UBS) has stolen away Bank of America's (NYS: BAC) high-profile dealmaker, Andrea Orcel. The chairman of B of A's global banking and markets wing, Orcel is slated to join Carsten Kengeter at the helm of UBS's investment-banking business. While the shift works in favor of UBS, the move is another blow to B of A's European business, as it has been hit by an exodus of top bankers.

Orcel's appointment is one of the most notable signups during UBS CEO Sergio P. Ermotti's short tenure. Ermotti took over the reins of the Swiss bank last year from Oswald J. Grubel, who was caught in the midst of a $2.3 billion trading scandal.

B of A got Orcel from Merrill Lynch, which it bought during the financial crisis. Orcel had worked for Merrill Lynch since 1992 and came with an impressive resume, which included being a key figure in ABN Amro's split-up just before the financial crisis, where he had advised buyer Royal Bank of Scotland. Recently, he bagged the role of lead dealmaker in Italian bank UniCredit's $7.5 billion rights issue. There's also Santander's 2004 takeover of Abbey National. Quite an impressive roster of names.

Orcel's appointment at UBS has a specific motive. The bank has been looking to reduce the complexity and the capital-intensive nature of its investment-banking business. It's been changing this business around since Ermotti's takeover, and it plans to increase the return on equity significantly, along with increasing its focus on high-end customers.

The move to hire Orcel not only signals UBS's goals for its investment-banking business; it also shows that the bank is geared to make investments where required. According to one analyst, "to bring in Mr. Orcel underscored the balancing act of shrinking the investment bank while at the same time preventing it from becoming irrelevant." So Orcel's move should benefit UBS as it looks to change around its business under Ermotti. To keep a tab on UBS's turnaround, add the stock to your free Watchlist.

As for B of A, it loses out on another top-profile banker. With Orcel shifting out of B of A, the American bank has three vacant senior positions in Europe. Orcel, in fact, is one of the world's highest-paid bankers. Last month, Mark Astaire, who was the head of corporate broking, moved to Barclays Capital, and Jonathan Moulds, who's the president of Europe and Canada, is set to call it a day in the second quarter. Christian Meissner will occupy Moulds' position. So there will be a lot of management changes afoot, and B of A will surely miss Orcel, its prolific dealmaker. To follow these changes, add Bank of America to your free Watchlist.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Shubh Datta doesn't own any shares in the companies mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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