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Switzerland’s UBS has appointed Martin Blessing, the former boss of Germany’s Commerzbank, as head of its main wealth management operations after the surprise departure of Jürg Zeltner.

UBS gave no explanation for the departure of Mr Zeltner, who had headed the division since 2012. He will retire from the group.

Sergio Ermotti, UBS chief executive, said in a statement that Mr Zeltner had made an “outstanding contribution” at the bank and his contribution to the wealth management operations “deserves particular recognition”.

The reshuffle puts Mr Blessing in a strong position to become chief executive after Mr Ermotti, who took over the top job at UBS in 2011, Under Mr Ermotti and Mr Zeltner, UBS has implemented a sweeping strategy revamp since the 2007-2008 global financial crises, away from investment banking and towards managing the wealth of the world’s richest. Mr Blessing has been running UBS’s operations in Switzerland for the past year.

UBS is the world’s largest wealth manager with more than $2tn in assets under management. Its wealth management division, which excludes US wealth management activities, reported a pre tax profit of SFr 701m in the first nine months of the year – up 9 per cent from a year earlier.

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