Swiss bank UBS says more money from wealthy investors in Asia helped Q4 profits

FRANKFURT – Swiss bank UBS said Tuesday that profits rose 5 per cent in the fourth quarter as a tax benefit and new inflows from wealthy Asian investors boosted the bottom line.

The bank cautions however that the sharp rise in the Swiss franc — which happened after the quarter ended — would “put pressure on our profitability.”

UBS said it made 963 million francs ($1.04 billion) in the quarter, up from 917 million francs in the year-ago quarter.

The bank said it benefited from new money inflows from clients in Asia at its wealth management business, which serves high-net-worth individuals.

The bank also claimed a net tax benefit of 493 million francs during the quarter.

The franc rose sharply in January after the Swiss central bank stopped capping its value relative to the euro. The company said it would face new challenges to its business from the stronger franc — the currency in which it must pay many of its costs — and efforts by the European Central Bank to drive down interest rates.

“The increased value of the Swiss franc relative to other currencies, especially the U.S. dollar and the euro, and negative interest rates in the eurozone and Switzerland, will put pressure on our profitability and, if they persist, on some of our targeted performance levels,” the bank said in a statement.

Net profit beat forecasts for 834 million francs among stock-market analysts surveyed by financial information provider FactSet.