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UBS ‘Raid’ of Credit Suisse in U.S. Prompts $9 Million Slap

Sonali Basak

(Bloomberg) -- A public spat between a pair of Swiss banking giants that erupted almost four years ago is now finally ending with a payment.

It began in 2015, when Credit Suisse Group AG accused crosstown rival UBS Group AG of unfairly poaching staff from its U.S. private banking business. UBS Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti personally shot back, insisting at a news conference his firm did nothing wrong.

After examining a claim and counterclaim -- plus a revised counterclaim -- a team of arbitrators quietly reached their verdict last week: UBS must pay Credit Suisse $9 million.

A copy of the ruling posted online Tuesday doesn’t elaborate on the reasoning behind the award. The companies quickly disagreed on how to interpret it -- with Credit Suisse declaring victory and UBS noting its rival had demanded even more.

“This award issued today confirms Credit Suisse’s view that UBS engaged in serious misconduct in connection with its raid of Credit Suisse employees and materials privy to Credit Suisse,” Credit Suisse said in a statement. It praised the trio of arbitrators arranged by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. “The panel took the time to carefully review the considerable evidence.”

The fracas began when Credit Suisse retreated from managing wealth for U.S. clients. In October 2015, the bank reached an agreement to give Wells Fargo & Co. an inside track on recruiting its private bankers. But within weeks, about 70 of 300 relationship managers included in the deal left for UBS, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.

On Tuesday, UBS stood by its position that it acted within the rules after Credit Suisse’s decision to exit the U.S. private-banking business.

“UBS believes that these claims were without merit and that this is a bad decision that is out of line with the applicable law,” the bank said in a statement. “While we don’t believe any award was justified, UBS notes that the claimant received only a fraction of what it sought.”

(Updates with 2015 events in sixth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sonali Basak in New York at sbasak7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, David Scheer, Steve Dickson

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