UBS Names New Asia-Pacific CEO

HONG KONG (Reuters) – UBS AG (UBSN.VX) on Thursday announced the appointment of Chi-Won Yoon as chairman and CEO of Asia Pacific, succeeding Rory Tapner, who is leaving the bank after 25 years.

Yoon joined UBS in 1997 as Head of Equity Derivatives, becoming Head of Asia Equities in 2004, Head of Asia Pacific Equities in 2008, and Head of Equities and Fixed Income for the region earlier this year.

Yoon inherits a franchise with a strong equities and M&A platform across Asia Pacific. But the bank also faces several challenges.

Among the first obstacles is getting the new leadership in place. Robert Rankin, the region’s former head of the investment bank, stepped down earlier this year. People inside and outside the bank credited Rankin with playing a key role in building UBS’ business in Asia.

The bank filled Rankin’s shoes with its Asia Pacific head of M&A and its head of Financial Institutions Group.

UBS, like it’s peers, also lost a lot of bankers in Asia, either through layoffs or to other banks. After posting huge losses from exposure to subprime mortgage securities, the bank severely cut back on bonuses, which prompted many to leave.

The bank also lost two highly respected Asia Pacific derivatives bankers earlier this year and a team of bankers in that group to a rival. But despite some setbacks, UBS has kept its Asia Pacific franchise largely in tact, remaining one of the top equities house in the region.

In addition to 9,500 employees in Asia Pacific, the bank says it has the largest wealth management business in the region.

Tapner took over the top Asia role in April 2004, after 5 years in London as joint global head of investment banking. In an interview with Reuters, Tapner said he will fly back to London on Friday to be with his family. His wife and four children remained in London during his Asia tenure, he said, knowing how much travel time he’d have to log as CEO of the region.

“The targets he set, to substantially grow our revenues and profits from the region, have all been achieved, and the share of group revenues represented by APAC now exceed 20 percent,” said UBS CEO Oswald Grubel in an internal memo obtained by Reuters.

“This from a business that represents only 6 percent of the group’s balance sheet and risk weighted assets, and employs 11 percent of our global workforce.”

Tapner also led the execution of the bank’s China strategy, the memo says.

Yoon holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a master’s in Finance from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After starting out as an electrical engineer for the U.S. space shuttle program, he joined Wall Street in 1986 covering derivatives.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Ian Geoghegan and Ken Wills)