Switzerland's Ethos foundation weighing options on UBS class action

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  • Switzerland's Ethos foundation weighing options on UBS class action

EUROPE -  Switzerland's Ethos foundation is keeping "all options open" in its struggle to start legal proceedings against former board members at UBS, including joining a class action suit.

Earlier this spring, UBS shareholders narrowly rejected a motion to discharge former board members from responsibility for the years 2007-09.

Over this period, UBS suffered heavy losses and became embroiled in a highly detrimental tax battle in the US.

Actares, another Swiss shareholder association, has called on the UBS administrative board to initiate legal proceedings, as the deadline for filing claims against the former board members falls in mid-October.

However, as the administrative board has so far been "inactive", Actares has teamed up with Belgian shareholder action group Deminor - which has some experience with shareholder class actions against multinationals - to prepare a class action suit.

Ethos told IPE it welcomed Actares' move to call on the UBS administrative board to file a lawsuit itself.

A spokesman said: "Now we are waiting to see how the board will react before making any further decisions - in any case, Ethos is keeping all options open."

Ethos argued that UBS's administrative board had access to "relevant data" that would boost any legal action's chances of success.

Further, any legal proceedings initiated by board would be billed indirectly to all shareholders, as opposed to a single group, it said.

Actares and Deminor have called on UBS shareholders to join the class action they intend to file in Brussels against former UBS board members and "possibly the bank itself".

Actares said it was "absolutely necessary" institutional investors - including Pensionskassen, investment funds and financial institutes - joined the initiative in order to reach "critical mass".

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