Marcel Ospel was the chairman of the board of directors (chairman) of UBS between 2001 and April 2008. His leadership at the head of the bank is characterized by a race for the size whose effects will be revealed during the crisis of subprime.
Read also an old opinion (2008): The end of the Ospel era
His entry into office was marked by the involvement of UBS in the bankruptcy of Swissair in autumn 2001. The UBS having refused to allocate an additional loan to Swissair, Marcel Ospel was accused of having actively contributed to the “grounding” »From the Swissair fleet. The 2007 “Swissair trial” put an end to these charges, the UBS not having been found guilty of the bankruptcy of the airline.
Also read: Salaries of big bosses caught up by those of medium-sized groups
A staggering salary
Described as ambitious and determined, Marcel Ospel was frequently the subject of criticism due to his remuneration considered too high, making him one of the highest paid managers in Switzerland (18 million Swiss francs in 2004, 21 million in 2005 ). His move for tax reasons to the canton of Schwyz helped to strengthen this image among public opinion.
In 2006, his annual salary rose to 24 million Swiss francs, 300 times the salary of a basic UBS employee. He is the second highest paid boss in Switzerland after the boss of Novartis, Daniel Vasella, who recorded a salary of 30 million in 2006.
The turmoil of “subprimes”
In 2007, UBS was caught in the turmoil of the American “subprimes”. The UBS announces some minor difficulties at the end of summer 2007. The revelations follow one another and on the eve of the extraordinary general assembly of February 2008, the amount of losses amounts to more than 20 billion Swiss francs .
Marcel Ospel is strongly criticized by the shareholders. The bank is forced to launch a new capital increase of 9.53 billion euros. Finally, the bank calls on the help of the Confederation and transfers 39.1 billion Swiss francs of toxic assets to the Swiss National Bank.
After refusing a special control commission which would have been a first in the history of UBS, the general assembly accepts that the sovereign fund GIC of Singapore takes a participation of a little less than 10% in the capital of UBS . The State of Singapore, Switzerland’s competing financial center, thus becomes the largest shareholder of UBS.
On April 23, 2008, Marcel Ospel leaves the board of directors of UBS. He is replaced with immediate effect by Peter Kurer. In April 2010, the General Assembly refused to grant discharge for the 2007 Board of Directors.