Robert Wolf, the chairman of UBS AG’s Americas unit and one of Wall Street’s top supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama, is leaving the Swiss bank after 18 years to start an advisory firm.
Wolf, 50, will continue to work on Zurich-based UBS’s current mandates and on generating new bank business from his company, 32 Advisors LLC, according to an employee memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. At UBS, Switzerland’s largest lender, he has served as president and chief operating officer of the investment bank and as head of fixed income, among other roles.
Wolf, who joined UBS in 1994 after 10 years at Salomon Brothers in fixed-income sales and trading, wrote in the memo that he’s “pleased to remain engaged with UBS and continue contributing to the company’s growth and progress.” His departure was reported earlier today by the Wall Street Journal.
UBS was shaken by the discovery of a $2.3 billion loss from unauthorized trading in September, which resulted in the departure of Chief Executive Officer Oswald Gruebel. The firm’s new CEO, Sergio Ermotti, is shrinking UBS’s investment bank by almost half as stricter capital requirements and Europe’s debt crisis put pressure on profit.
The bank has also faced key departures. Matthew Koder left as head of global capital markets to join Bank of America Corp. in March. Cary Kochman, co-head of mergers and acquisitions, and Kevin Cox, head of industrials, left to join New York-based Citigroup Inc. last year. London-based Pat Guerin and Liam Beere, co-heads of European M&A, left to join Citigroup and Moelis & Co., respectively.
Wolf is among President Barack Obama’s top Wall Street donors, signing on during his 2008 primary race against then-Senator Hillary Clinton. The website for Obama’s 2012 campaign lists Wolf as having raised more than $500,000 for the president’s re-election effort.
He’s played golf with Obama in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, basketball in Washington and has been a guest at White House social events from state dinners to the president’s 50th birthday party last year.
He’s also played a central role in Obama’s outreach to the business community, attending jobs summits and serving as a member of Obama’s initial jobs council that was headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and the current panel led by General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
“Being that Wall Street friend of the president isn’t so easy,” Wolf said in a Jan. 17 interview on Bloomberg Television, when asked about the president’s proposals to increase taxes on capital gains and carried interest. “Since 1776, after every war, there’s taxes,” he said. “We’ve had a 10-year war.”
Wolf received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984.