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Axel Weber: A Dash for Change

UBS Chairman Axel Weber has performed a perfect u-turn with his wish for a mega-merger. His reasons are understandable even as the chances for the plan to make UBS a European champion seem slim.

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If you don’t move to align your views to a change in circumstances, your intellect is simply not particularly adaptable. You couldn’t possibly claim that to be true about Axel Weber.

The chairman of UBS aims for a mega-merger between Switzerland’s largest bank and another leading European finance institute, according to a slew of reports in the media in recent days.

Impossible U-Turn

He must have changed his mind about mergers in that case. Five years ago, the 63-year-old thought mergers between major banks to be more or less impossible. Last year, suddenly, Weber had changed tune: Europe needs banking champions of a size that allowed them to compete with the big U.S. rivals.

But, UBS, over which he had presided since 2012, was not part of this process. A mega-merger or acquisition might paralyze the bank for years. «Before we run, we must walk safely,» he told «Tagesanzeiger» in an interview in 2019 (behind paywall).

Now, another about-face: Weber and UBS are in the mood to acquire or merge. His time at the top of UBS will expire in two years’ time.

European Champion – With a Swiss Bank

According to this plan of the ex-head of Germany’s Bundesbank, a Swiss bank would assume the position as European champion. The targets mentioned include Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank in Germany, BNP Paribas in France, Barclays or Lloyds Bank in the U.K. – or will it be Credit Suisse after all?

With the size of…

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