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Swiss EconMin says UBS needs time but on mend

The Swiss government is making efforts to sell its stake in UBS AG as Switzerland's biggest bank is making progress under its new leadership, the Swiss economics minister said in an interview.

“It will still take some time until UBS is healthy but the situation has improved under the new leadership of Oswald Gruebel,” Doris Leuthard told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on Tuesday.

“This is why the government is making efforts to sell its stake,” she said.

Gruebel, who previously helped turn round UBS's nearest rival Credit Suisse, was appointed earlier this year to steer the bank back to recovery. UBS was one of Europe's worst-hit banks in the global financial crisis, taking more than $50 billion in writedowns.

Berne agreed last October to give UBS a badly-needed 6 billion Swiss franc ($5.5 billion) cash injection in exchange for mandatory convertible notes (MCN) that would give it a stake of 9.3% in the bank. The government has said it will exit the investment as soon as justifiable. “If we can sell the government's stake in UBS, we will be the first country that's managed to do that,” said Leuthard. (Reuters)