Sunday, August 10, 2008

UBS Uses Google Adwords to Announce Settlement

This is a first, at least for me. I was at and noticed in the Google Advertisements an ad for the UBS ARS settlement. It wasn't an ad from an attorney, it had a reference to

I thought someone was trying to spoof UBS' web site, or that it was someone trying to generate clicks from ARS holder by putting UBS' web site URL in the ad.

I followed the link, and lo and behold, it was a link to the real UBS site, specifically a press release about the settlement with the NY AG, the SEC and the NASAA.

An interesting concept, paying Google to advertise your multi-billion dollar settlement with regulators. I wonder if that was part of the settlement, or if UBS is really that proud of their multi-billion dollar settlement that they are paying to advertise it.

The press release provides some additional details. First, the repurchase from investors will be made over TWO YEARS, starting in January 2009. Smaller investors may be able to get out earlier, in November, but some individuals will not be liquid for quite some time - assuming of course that all of these recent scandals at UBS don't put them out of business before then.

Naturally, UBS' media folks couldn't help themselves, and attempted to spin this alleged fraud on their own customers, which resulted in $150 million in fines and billions in buy-backs as a positive:

"Today’s solution provides further relief, beginning in September, to investors who have been understandably frustrated by the industry-wide failure of the ARS market. Our leading position in supporting the market and providing liquidity is clear, and now, we are the first firm to give all clients -- private, corporate and institutional the opportunity to be made whole,” said Marten Hoekstra, Head of UBS Wealth Management Americas.

“Since the breakdown in the market, UBS clients have been offered multiple liquidity options. They have been able to borrow 100 percent against the value of their holdings. The solutions announced today provide our clients with the widest range of choices in the industry, including a two-year window during which clients can either continue to earn interest or redeem their ARS at any time,” Hoekstra added.

"Leading position" in the ARS market? They certainly were, but not in a good way.
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