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UBS Shuts L.A. Investment-Banking Office With Up to 20 Staff

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UBS AG, the Swiss lender restructuring its investment bank, is closing a Los Angeles office with as many as 20 bankers and support staff.

UBS may move some employees to the San Francisco office, which will continue to serve clients in Southern California, Karina Byrne, a spokeswoman for the Zurich-based company, said today in a phone interview. The bank said in October it will cut about 10,000 jobs and retreat from capital-intensive trading businesses to boost profitability.

“You can consider these changes to be part of the next step in the implementation of our strategy, a refinement of our investment-bank model by focusing on those areas where we believe we can be successful,” Byrne said.

Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti, 52, is exiting most debt trading to concentrate on money management and boost return on equity, a measure of profitability, to at least 15 percent in 2015. UBS, Switzerland’s largest lender, will continue to offer advice and underwrite debt and equity offerings for corporate clients.

The closing of the Los Angeles office affected 15 to 20 people, and the bank continues to employ “a small group” of fixed-income traders in the city, Byrne said.

UBS has advised on three transactions this year involving California-based companies, ranking 22nd by total disclosed deal size, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It ranked 12th last year and eighth in 2011.

The bank advised cable channel Al Jazeera in its January purchase of San Francisco-based Current TV, the network co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Al Jazeera, based in Doha, Qatar, paid about $500 million, two people with knowledge of the deal said last month.

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