Swiss banking and investment giant UBS today said it is selling its subprime mortgage portfolio to BlackRock for $15 billion.
In a conference call with analysts after UBS reported a first-quarter loss of 11.5 billion Swiss francs ($10.7 billion), CEO Marcel Rohner confirmed sale of the portfolio. Analysts estimated that those assets were worth $20 billion before the subprime crisis erupted last summer. Bobbie Collins, spokeswoman for BlackRock, confirmed the firm had acquired the UBS portfolio but said the company would not comment further.
UBS executives also said in their earnings statement that credit-related losses amounted to $19 billion in the first quarter and that the banking group will cut 7% of its global staff of 19,000 through the reduction of 5,500 jobs by mid-2009. UBS is also exiting the municipal bond market, where it is a dominant player.