FILE PHOTO: Axel Weber, chairman of Swiss bank UBS addresses the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Basel, Switzerland, May 2, 2019. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann
By Jesús Aguado and Emma Pinedo
MADRID, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Axel Weber, president of UBS, testified in court on Wednesday that made it clear to his Santander counterpart Ana Botín in September that the bank would deny Andrea Orcel compensation if he left his post to sign by Spanish competitor, demonstrating the pivotal role that Weber played in the dispute.
Andrea Orcel, who was UBS’s top investment banker at the time, has sued Santander for compensation in a Spanish court, after Botín’s bank withdrew an offer to make him CEO due to disagreements over payments. deferred that I would lose.
Botín testified in court in May that he was aware of Weber’s position, but that UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti had a different opinion at the time. Any payment from UBS would have reduced the compensation Santander had to pay Orcel. UBS’s official position was not known until mid-November, according to Botín. Ermotti has never publicly clarified his position and has not been called to testify.
Weber said Wednesday that UBS strips any employee who voluntarily goes to another financial institution of any deferred payment and made the bank’s position clear to Santander.
“On September 24 (2018) we made a final decision, it included that UBS would not pay the compensation, that the six-month withdrawal period would apply, and it also included that there was no doubt that Santander qualified as a financial services entity” .
In January 2019, Santander said the bank could not meet Orcel’s salary demands, which included covering up to 35 million euros ($ 41 million) of a compensation package of 55 million euros that it was due to receive in future years. from UBS.
Asked on Wednesday if Ermotti was involved in talks about payments that could be due to Orcel, Weber said it was up to the Swiss bank’s board of directors to decide such matters.
Although the hearing is expected to conclude on Wednesday, the ruling could take days or weeks to be made public, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Orcel, who has not been called to testify on Wednesday although he was present in court, originally requested up to 112 million euros from Santander for breach of contract and damages to his career due to the withdrawal of the offer.
However, in May, he withdrew the part of his legal claim that required the Spanish bank to hire him after being appointed CEO of Italian UniCredit.
He also reduced his claim to 66-76 million euros, according to sources close to the matter, a court document and Santander’s lawyer.
(1 dollar = 0.8591 euros)
(Reporting by Jesús Aguado and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Mark Potter and Elaine Hardcastle; Translated by Tomás Cobos)