12 Jan 2009

Swiss bank tipped to announce record loss

8:03 am on 12 January 2009

Switzerland's biggest bank is to announce the biggest loss in the country's history, running into billions of dollars, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The paper said UBS would record an overall loss in 2008 of 20 billion Swiss francs, in spite of showing a profit of 296 million francs in the third quarter, when it reports results in February.

The German language Sonntag, which is generally well-informed, reported UBS had racked up eight billion francs in losses in the final quarter of 2008, bringing the total for the year to 20 billion.

UBS admitted in the autumn when it announced third quarter results that the global financial crisis had hit it hard and warned it could lose up to five billion francs in the final quarter.

The bank was heavily exposed to risky US subprime mortgage business and had to write down almost $US47 billion in share values. In recent months clients have taken fright and withdrawn a total of 83.6 billion francs.

The Swiss government intervened in October with a rescue plan of $US60 billion.

Since then the bank has been hit by the fraudulent Ponzi scheme of alleged American fraudster Bernard Madoff and the failure of the US subsidiary of the Dutch group LyondellBasell.