Europe Markets Close Higher; UBS Up 4% After Bank Announces Ermotti to Return as CEO

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This is CNBC's live blog covering European markets.

European stock markets closed higher on Wednesday as investor doubts over the health of the banking sector continued to wane.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 1.3%, with banks up 1.9%. Tech stocks reversed Tuesday's decline with a 2.7% gain while the financial services sector was up 1.8%.

Retail and autos bounced on either side of the flatline throughout the session but closed in positive territory.

UBS shares were up 4.5% mid-afternoon after the bank announced Sergio Ermotti would return to his role as group CEO from April 5, following the recent acquisition of Credit Suisse. Shares of the bank ended the session 3.7% higher.

Beat Wittmann, partner at Porta Advisors, said the level of anger among the public over the "failure of successive managements" at Credit Suisse, who oversaw numerous scandals, and toward policymakers over their failure to intervene earlier, should not be underestimated.

"Trust has to be rebuilt. Trust in the banking sector at large and trust with policymakers, and Sergio Ermotti is certainly somebody who is able to deliver stability and instil trust," Wittman told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

Ermotti was group CEO at UBS from November 2011 to October 2020.

Regional markets closed mixed Tuesday, with investors seemingly in a holding pattern after a serious bout of market volatility.

Banks managed to finish higher after a choppy session, though there was fresh bad news as French authorities searched the offices of several large banks on the suspicion of money laundering and fiscal fraud.

"Every day that passes reinforces the market's, and our, conviction that a line has been drawn under systemic banking worries (individual travails are another matter)," analysts at ING Bank said in a morning note.

"With markets having spent that last three weeks looking for hairline fractures in every bank's balance sheet and business model, there is a case to be made that a large number of closets have already been checked for skeletons."

More concerning for markets now is the macroeconomic picture, they said, adding that there's a greater likelihood of a credit crunch. 

Asia-Pacific markets were mostly higher on Wednesday as Alibaba's Hong Kong-listed shares spiked at the open after the Chinese tech giant announced it will split into six business groups.

U.S. stocks broadly rose Wednesday as traders looked to recover from a down session, with traders betting the worst of the banking crisis is over.

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UBS extends gains after CEO takeover news; shares up 4%

Shares of UBS rose as much as 4.5% mid-afternoon after the bank announced Sergio Ermotti would reprise his role as CEO in April. The gains were last seen trading at 3.9% by 3.15 p.m. London time.

Ermotti was group CEO at UBS from November 2011 to October 2020 and steered the bank through the aftermath of the financial crash.

The banking sector as a whole was up 1.8%.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

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‘Call of duty’: With Sergio Ermotti, Switzerland gets a cost-cutting local to restore its reputation

Newly appointed UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti (R) arrives next to UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher (C) and outgoing CEO Ralph Hamers during a press conference in Zurich on March 29, 2023.
Arnd Wiegmann | Afp | Getty Images
Newly appointed UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti (R) arrives next to UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher (C) and outgoing CEO Ralph Hamers during a press conference in Zurich on March 29, 2023.

Incoming UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti on Wednesday said his return to the helm was a "call of duty," as the Swiss veteran takes on the task of restoring order to the country's battered financial reputation.

UBS announced on Wednesday that the former CEO would replace Ralph Hamers from April 5, as the Swiss bank begins the daunting integration of fallen rival Credit Suisse into its business following an emergency acquisition earlier this month.

Asked by CNBC during Wednesday's press conference about his motivation for leaving his role as chairman of reinsurer Swiss Re to return to UBS, Ermotti said there was "a call of duty aspect" to the decision, which comes at a pivotal time for the Swiss banking system.

"And also, frankly speaking, I always thought that despite all these discussions and the size of the bank, I always felt that the next chapter I wanted to write back then was a chapter of doing a transaction like this one," Ermotti added.

Read the full story here.

— Elliot Smith

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Stocks on the move: OCI up 13%, Maersk down 25%

Chemicals firm OCI topped the Stoxx 600 index in late morning trade.

The stock was up 13% after the company said Tuesday it would review the recommendations made in a letter from shareholder Inclusive Capital Partners, which said it was trading at a significant discount to its intrinsic value.

Shipping giant Moeller-Maersk, meanwhile, plunged 25% on its ex-dividend day. The firm on Tuesday announced at its annual general meeting it would pay an extraordinary dividend of 2,300 Danish krone ($335 dollars) in addition to a regular dividend of DKK 2,000.00 per share.

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Sergio Ermotti returns as UBS CEO to oversee Credit Suisse takeover

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Ermotti UBS CEO appointment will calm nerves and build trust in Swiss banks: analyst

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Europe stocks open higher

European stock markets were upbeat in early Wednesday trade, with the pan-regional Stoxx 600 index up 0.5% at 8:20 a.m. London time.

France's CAC 40 was up by 0.65%, Germany's DAX by 0.42% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 by 0.26%.

Banks extended the previous session's gains, climbing 0.5%.

— Jenni Reid

Sergio Ermotti to take over as UBS CEO

UBS on Wednesday named Sergio Ermotti as its new Group CEO, following the recent acquisition deal of Credit Suisse.

The move will be effective April 5.

Current CEO Ralph Hamers is set to remain at UBS and work alongside Sergio P. Ermotti to advise the bank during a transition period.

Read the full story here.

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If you had $10,000 to invest, where should you put it amid the uncertainty, and how much should you allocate to each asset class? CNBC Pro speaks to portfolio managers and investors to find out.

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CNBC Pro: As volatility persists, this is what investors can expect in the second quarter — according to history

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This is particularly notable after a year of negative returns.

Here, CNBC Pro subscribers can read how markets have performed in similar conditions historically.

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European markets: Here are the opening calls

European markets are heading for a broadly higher open Wednesday.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index is expected to open 2 points lower at 7,485, Germany's DAX 35 points higher at 15,175, France's CAC up 15 points at 7,103 and Italy's FTSE MIB 57 points higher at 25,915, according to data from IG.

Earnings are set to come from Next and data releases will include Italian and Russian unemployment figures for February.

— Holly Ellyatt

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