The News: UBS Vows to Maintain Competitive Pay and Bonuses

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UBS will continue paying competitive salaries and bonuses to retain its position in global markets, the bank's chief executive said in the face of complaints at the annual shareholders' meeting in Basel.

Oswald Gruebel said UBS needs "specialists and executives, whose price is determined by the global market," according to Bloomberg News. "That is a reality that we must acknowledge if we want UBS to compete globally, generate value for shareholders and remain an attractive employer."

The bank's chairman also had a firm rejoinder to shareholders who groused that they should be paid (via dividends) before employees:

Requiring a bank "to refrain from paying any bonuses at all and not permitting it to pay compensation in line with market rates means taking away its chances for recovery and survival," Chairman Kaspar Villiger told shareholders. "That is why I strongly reject the criticism of our remuneration policy."

UBS is allowing shareholders an advisory vote on its compensation report for 2009, which disclosed cash bonus payouts totaling 2.9 billion Swiss francs ($2.8 billion) - 34 percent more than in 2008 but 70 percent less than in 2007. UBS shares are up 15 percent this year, compared with a 4.4 percent rise for a Bloomberg index of 52 European banks and financial services firms. Two days ago the bank reported its best quarterly profit in almost three years but said clients continue to withdraw funds from both its wealth management and asset management divisions.

Gruebel Says UBS Will Keep 'Market-Oriented' Pay [Bloomberg News]

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