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UBS launches new $2 billion share buyback

Published 04/02/2024, 01:14 AM
Updated 04/02/2024, 10:41 AM
© Reuters. A UBS logo is seen next to Credit Suisse at the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich Switzerland, August 30, 2023.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) -UBS on Tuesday said it was launching a new share buyback programme of up to $2 billion, with up to half being completed in 2024.

The scheme will begin on Wednesday, said the Swiss bank which announced a $1 billion buyback with its annual results in February.

Now, the volume of shares to be repurchased could be expanded up to $2 billion in the scheme which will run until 2026.

The scheme follows a 2022 buyback, where UBS bought back 298.5 million of its shares - equivalent to 8.6% of its stock - for $5.2 billion.

Rather than being canceled as initially intended, most of the repurchased shares were used in last year's takeover of Credit Suisse.

Before the deal was announced, UBS had already repurchased nearly 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.32 billion) worth of its stock.

"As previously communicated, in 2024 we expect to repurchase up to $1bn of our shares, commencing after the completion of the merger of UBS AG and Credit Suisse AG which is expected to occur by the end of the second quarter," the bank said in a statement.

"Our ambition is for share repurchases to exceed our pre-acquisition level by 2026," it added, pointing to the $5.6 billion of shares repurchased in 2022.

During buybacks, firms buy their own shares on the stock exchange, reducing the proportion of shares held by investors, offering a way for companies to return cash to shareholders — along with dividends, and often sending the stock higher as shares reduce in number.

If exercised in full, the new share buyback will amount to around 64.1 million shares - equivalent to roughly 1.85% of UBS's share capital.

Analysts at Zuercher Kantonalbank were positive about the announcement.

© Reuters. A UBS logo is seen next to Credit Suisse at the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich Switzerland, August 30, 2023.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

"We see the launch of a new share buyback programme as the first step in preparing for the announced buyback of USD 1 bn, which we believe is likely to begin in Q3," said analyst Michael Klien in a note.

($1 = 0.9062 Swiss francs)

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