UBS sells mortgages to American firm

UBS sign in Geneva, Switzerland

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: The Swiss bank UBS is selling some of its subprime mortgages to American investment firm BlackRock. The multi-billion dollar deal has been hailed as a sign the credit crisis my be easing. From London, Stephen Beard reports.


Stephen Beard: BlackRock is paying UBS $15 billion for the package of subprime mortgages. That's a hefty 25 percent discount to the face value. UBS therefore is taking a $5 billion hit. Nevertheless, the deal will be a big relief. Switzerland's largest bank has been hammered by the credit crunch. So far it's written off over $37 billion. Today's deal with BlackRock offers a glimmer of hope -- the worst may be over. Haig Simonian of the Financial Times says mortgage-backed securities are now beginning to sell.

Haig Simonian: Life is returning to the markets and at least some purchasers are emerging from the woodwork and some people who want to sell are obtaining now marginally better than firesale prices.

But UBS continues to suffer. The bank today unveiled another $11 billion loss for the first quarter and said that a further 5,500 jobs will go.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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