This is my hypothesis:
August 2008 UBS hires Lazard to figure out what to do.
February 2009 Rumor was that WFC was going to buy UBS. Confirmed that talks happened but went nowhere.
March 2009 UBS announces they are exiting 55 markets and by the end sell 56 offices to Stifel
July FT article comes out about maybe Bob McCann from MER may be on the short list for head of WM USA
Same article or another at the same time mentions that Dean Witter passed and went for Smith Barney whatever we are called now.
Many at UBS think JPM is a buyer for UBS. Rumor, nothing else, though. I even saw one that said Ameriprise (which is just plain silly)
UBS has courted everyone at the dance but no one is interested. 20% of the UBS head-count and 5% of the UBS revenue (although unprofitable) is US. In Switzerland, UBS uses the typical bank "Private Bank" model. Salaried employees, some bonus. They know how to work this model well. That is not the US model (overseas they really pay to have a bank account). UBS knows that 90% (last I heard Merrill was 65%, haven't heard from others but you get the picture) of its revenues come from <$1MM households. They, like everyone else pose as THE firm for >$1MM households. But all firms' profit margins are better at the 500,000 HH (ever discounted a million plus HH? So does everyone else!)
So UBS is trapped in the model they say they are versus what they really are and every possible suitor on the street knows it because they are the same way to some extent. They cannot make money doing what they are doing and they simply do not know how. The reality is that our business is a slim margin business versus a bank. Banks are getting net interest spread and fees which are almost half of their core revenue. That can be 300 to 600 bps gross. Wealth Management as a business might get 15 bps or less to the bottom line (or negative in UBS' case).
Who wants to marry someone with a personality disorder?
Just my thoughts to other postulators. Cheers!