A week after a rogue UBS trader hung the Swiss banking giant for $2.3 billion, CEO Oswald Grübel tendered his resignation.
Mr. Grübel decided that the $2.3 billion loss as a result of unauthorized trades by a midlevel employee had made it impossible to run a bank that has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years and desperately needs to repair its reputation.
“I did not take the step of resigning lightly,” he wrote in an e-mail to staff on Saturday. “I am convinced that it is in the best interests of UBS to approach the future with a new leader.”
UBS says that the decision was Grübel's call alone--in fact, chairman Kaspar Villeger tried to get him to stay on. However, it's hard not to think he got a not-so-gentle push from the Swiss government in the wake of Kweku Adoboli's unauthorized trading. UBS has assets of $1.4 trillion--according to Wikipedia, more than double the size of Switzerland's GDP. And just last year, it pleaded guilty to helping wealthy Americans avoid taxes.
According to the BBC's Robert Preston, despite the board's confidence in Grübel, he likely had to go.
For a group whose culture is supposed to be of prudence and conservatism, and which has let itself down so badly so many times in the past three years, the embarrassment demanded that responsibility was taken at the very top.
At least Grübel has the decency to show real remorse--he won't get a severance payment.