The predictable failure of Gruebel as CEO of UBS

Let's make a bold call. I would like to make very very early in the process, so that it's irrefutable when it's going to happen sometime in the future: New CEO Gruebel will fail turn around UBS.

But first some background:
Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- UBS AG hired Oswald Gruebel to replace Marcel Rohner as chief executive officer, tapping the veteran banker who turned around Credit Suisse Group AG, to restore investor confidence eroded by record losses and a U.S. tax scandal.

The 65-year-old Gruebel takes over immediately from Rohner [...]. UBS shares soared 16 percent after the appointment of Gruebel, who returned Credit Suisse to profitability in 2003 and has been retired for two years.

Gruebel “comes with an impressive track record,” said Andreas Weese, an analyst at UniCredit SpA in Munich who has a “hold” rating on UBS. “This should calm some investors’ nerves.”
A former bond trader, Gruebel doubled profit at Credit Suisse between 2004 and 2006 before retiring in 2007. [...]
“Oswald, or Saint Ossi as the Swiss call him, is credited with the turnaround of Credit Suisse after the Winterthur debacle,” said Dirk Hoffmann-Becking, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein & Co. “The markets would expect him to perform similar miracles on UBS as well.”
So here are my points. Hopefully, they will be proven right within the next 24 months:
  • CEOs in general are human, and they are most of the time more into internal political games than anything else and they are most of the time less capable than the average joe.
  • CEOs in general cannot transform lead into gold. A company that is a failure cannot be transformed into a success story, no matter how good the CEO. The only mega transformation that I know was the Apple resurgence brought by Steve Jobs, but he is a real genius, and he brought in all the work accomplished for many years at NeXT.
  • John Thain, the other "miracle man" on Wall Street has created a precedent that is going to be difficult to ignore
  • Vikram Pandit, yet another "miracle man" on Wall Street has create yet another precedent that is going to be difficult to ignore.
  • The so-called miracle that Gruebel supposedly performed at Credit Suisse happened between 2003 and 2006, which was the biggest credit bubble in history and also one of biggest bull markets for banks. So what he probably did was ride this rally. What's the probability of him just being the person who was at the right place at the right time?
So the only way UBS can be turned around is in my opinion with the help of huge bailouts (already happened a few months ago and probably still happening as I write this) and big part of luck. Let's see how lucky Gruebel is :-)

No comments: