Profits climb at Swiss banking giant UBS despite pandemic

Swiss banking giant UBS said Tuesday its net profit soared last year despite the coronavirus crisis, boosted by its wealth management and investment divisions.

Net profit for 2020 was up 54 percent at $6.6 billion (5.4 billion euros).

In the fourth quarter alone, profit jumped 137 percent to $1.7 billion, surpassing forecasts by analysts quoted by the Swiss agency AWP who predicted a figure of around $977 million.

“It was a challenging year for our clients, for our colleagues, and for our communities alike, which makes these results even more gratifying,” CEO Ralph Hamers said in a company statement.

He highlighted double-digit growth in pre-tax profit in the Global Wealth Management and Asset Management division, and a 20 percent return at its Investment Bank.

However, the group was cautious about the economic outlook.

“The growing numbers of Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations as well as lockdowns and similar measures imposed to control the pandemic add to existing concerns about the shape of the overall recovery and the severity and duration of the effects of the pandemic in certain economic sectors”, the statement said.