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UBS Group AG named former Morgan Stanley executive Colm Kelleher to succeed Axel Weber as its next chairman, landing a prominent Wall Street name to oversee the Swiss bank.

Mr. Kelleher spent 30 years at Morgan Stanley and was in the No. 2 job as president before leaving in June 2019. He held roles including chief financial officer at the bank through the 2008 financial crisis, and oversaw Morgan Stanley’s wealth-management business, a keen competitor to UBS.

He will become UBS chairman on April 6 if elected at a shareholder meeting, taking over for Mr. Weber after a 10-year run. As with Mr. Kelleher, Mr. Weber’s board appointment in 2012 was a trophy hire for the bank, in that case because Mr. Weber was a former president of Germany’s central bank and because rival Deutsche Bank AG was also recruiting him.

Mr. Weber along with former Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti was lauded for pushing up UBS’s stock price with a post-financial-crisis repositioning as a global wealth manager serving billionaires and entrepreneurs.

UBS caters to the world’s elite, connecting clients of its giant private bank to trading markets and deals that its investment bankers bring in. That mix of businesses held up well during the pandemic when financial markets boomed and assets of all stripes gained in value.

UBS in October said it would start a digital bank in the U.S. next year, targeting customers with between $250,000 and $2 million in assets and moving it into more direct competition with U.S. rivals such as Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch in that space.

Mr. Kelleher was born in Ireland and raised in England. He rose to be No. 2 at Morgan Stanley by tightening up operational controls to make the bank safer, and outlasted rivals through the bank’s internal power struggles. He pushed the firm’s retail brokers and investment bankers to work more closely together, similar to UBS’s efforts to springboard business between its wealth arm and investment bank.

Sought after by other banks, he turned down CEO job offers at Barclays PLC and Lloyds Banking Group PLC, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.

Mr. Weber had said he would retire when he hit a 10-year term limit. He oversaw UBS’s first year under CEO Ralph Hamers, who took over from Mr. Ermotti in November 2020. Mr. Weber said Mr. Kelleher’s leadership and relationships make him “an ideal fit for UBS."

UBS also nominated Lukas Gähwiler as vice chairman to its board. Mr. Gähwiler is chairman of UBS Switzerland AG and previously was on the UBS executive board and president of its Swiss bank.

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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