UBS chairman hints at departure earlier than expected - paper

ZURICH Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:45pm GMT

Axel Weber, chairman of UBS AG reacts during the annual meeting of the German business newspaper Handelsblatt in Frankfurt September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Axel Weber, chairman of UBS AG reacts during the annual meeting of the German business newspaper Handelsblatt in Frankfurt September 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ralph Orlowski

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ZURICH (Reuters) - UBS (UBSN.VX) chairman Axel Weber has hinted he may not stay at the Swiss bank as long as originally expected, in a newspaper interview linking his future with the lender's ability to meet stricter regulation as well as to restructure by end-2015.

"My work here is done when the bank is prepared for the new regulatory requirements and we have successfully implemented our strategy," Weber told German weekly Die Zeit, in an advance print made available on Wednesday.

The Swiss bank aims to hit higher capital requirements by the end of 2014, and said two years ago it plans to fire 10,000 staff and largely wind down its fixed income business by 2015.

Weber's comments represent a subtle shift for the 56-year-old former head of Germany's central bank, who responded to criticism of his 4 million Swiss franc ($4.50 million) signing-on fee in 2012 in part by saying he was looking to stay with UBS roughly 10 years.

UBS and Weber declined to comment to Reuters on Wednesday.

Weber, who as a central banker spoiled his chances of becoming European Central Bank chief by criticising ECB policies, said he does not plan a return to public service.

"We will see, I don't have a master plan. I find it exciting to advise our clients on their assets," Weber said.

It is unclear what other regulation UBS and Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) may face beyond a Swiss top-up of international requirements after UBS was rescued by the Swiss government in 2008, rules which are set to be reviewed in 2015.

The Swiss National Bank has urged both UBS and Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) to improve their leverage ratios, but no specific targets have been drafted.

A frequent public speaker on the euro zone, on which much of the newspaper interview centres, Weber has in the past been criticised internally for not devoting his public comments to UBS itself, its strategy, and its plans.

($1 = 0.8884 Swiss francs)

(Reporting By Katharina Bart; editing by David Evans)

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