UBS says trebles dividend for 2014 after rise in quarterly profit

2015-02-10

UBS in 2014 posted its biggest payout to shareholders since the financial crisis, after the Swiss bank hit capital targets and changed its legal structure, which helped it to hike its dividend.

Switzerland's biggest bank said on Tuesday net profit for the fourth quarter of 2014 was 963 million Swiss francs ($1.04 billion), exceeding the 937 million francs analysts had forecast in a Reuters poll.

Zurich-based UBS said the earnings will allow it to pay shareholders 0.75 francs per share for the year in two separate payouts, three times more than the 2013 payout of 0.25 francs a share.

The bank had pledged to pay out more than half its profits once it reached capital levels that were achieved in 2014. The bank also completed a change in legal structure last year which allowed it to return excess capital to investors.

Results last year were hit by more than $1 billion to settle past scandals.

In November, UBS agreed to pay 774 million francs to British and Swiss authorities and a U.S. regulator to settle a probe into the attempted manipulation of foreign exchange rates. In July, it booked a near $300 million charge in the second quarter mainly to settle claims it helped wealthy Germans dodge taxes.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into currency rate rigging is still ongoing and the DOJ is also examining currency-linked investments offered by Barclays and UBS, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

UBS paid $780 million in 2009 to settle a DOJ tax-evasion probe, but said in its quarterly report that U.S. authorities had begun an investigation into the selling of certain securities that potentially violate tax law in the United States.