FINSwire Jul 12 2011

UBS Moves More Staff to New York From Conn.

By brett philbin

UBS AG moved 50 professionals in its "cash trading" group to one of its midtown New York City offices from Stamford, Conn. on Monday as part of a broader plan to relocate a couple of hundred equities employees to the city, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The 50 employees, whose group trades without the use of loans or margin, will join the rest of the Swiss bank's Americas equity-capital-markets business in its 1285 Avenue of the Americas office, this person said. Other employees who are expected to move to the city include information-technology staff and operations personnel.

Despite the small personnel shift, UBS plans to maintain a presence in Stamford, this person said, adding that the office still houses the company's fixed-income-trading business.

But the move Monday is the first sign that UBS is following through on reports that it could shift some staff to Manhattan from its massive North American headquarters. Last month, The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, said the company has been in talks with Silverstein Properties to potentially take more than one million square feet in the under-construction 3 World Trade Center. Other reports have said UBS is looking at several midtown locations, but a final decision wouldn't be reached until 2015.

UBS has previously said it routinely evaluates its office space as leases expire or space becomes available.

One reason for the trading group's move to midtown: UBS is looking at ways to consolidate real estate so its businesses can work more closely together. The firm has also reportedly had difficulty recruiting top-tier talent willing to take the roughly one-hour train ride to Connecticut.

Building the ranks of the investment bank is a key priority right now for UBS. The firm has recently dealt with an exodus of investment-banking talent; the Journal reported June 1 that at least 17 senior U.S. bankers, including Cary Kochman, former co-global head of mergers & acquisitions, defected to rival firms over the prior four months. Many departures have stemmed from complaints about low compensation.

UBS moved its Americas headquarters to Stamford from New York in 1997. The Stamford building is known to have the world's largest trading floor, roughly the size of two football fields. The firm now has more than 17,000 employees in more than three million square feet of leased properties throughout the tri-state area.

Within the city, the 1285 office holds the bank's research, economics and equities staffs, while its mergers and acquisitions bankers work in its 299 Park Avenue office.

Brett Philbin is a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, where this story originally appeared. Write to him here.

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