Lansdowne Buys UBS Shares, Cites Ermotti’s ‘Commendable’ Plans

Lansdowne Partners LP, the largest Europe-based hedge fund that focuses on equities, bought shares of UBS AG last month as it increased its holdings in the financial services industry.

UBS Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti has taken “the commendable decision to focus upon its asset management and advisory businesses,” Lansdowne said in a performance report for its European Equity Fund, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg. The position is equivalent to 5 percent of the fund’s net asset value, the firm said in the report.

Ermotti is shrinking UBS’s investment-banking operations and seeking to focus the lender on its wealth management unit, the world’s second-largest, to boost returns for shareholders. His plans include 10,000 job cuts at the Zurich-based lender.

Andrew Honnor, a Lansdowne spokesman in London, declined to comment by e-mail, citing the hedge fund’s policy of not discussing individual investments. The firm manages about $2.2 billion across all of its European funds, according to Honnor.

Two of the Lansdowne’s European Equity Fund’s five biggest holdings are in the financial services industry: Ageas, the majority owner of Belgium’s biggest life insurer, and Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd NV.