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Merrill's McCann Seen as UBS Wealth Frontrunner

Former Merrill Lynch brokerage chief Bob McCann has the inside track to head up the brokerage division of UBS, sources told CNBC.

Other people have been interviewed and McCann's selection is not assured, although he is the frontrunner, sources said. Former Citigroup executive Sallie Krawcheck was among those candidates. But she is unlikely to get the job, a source told CNBC. Krawcheck led a private equity investor team in bid for the UBS unit that bid was apparently rebuffed.

Sources also tell CNBC Morgan Stanley's Jim Gorman, a rumored contender, is not likely to leave his job for this post.

UBS CEO Oswald Grubel recently had extensive discussions with McCann for the job. However, UBS' ongoing court case with the U.S. government over the identity of its clients is complicating the matter, sources said. There is a Sunday deadline for settling that case. If that deadline passes the case goes to trial Monday.

UBS
UBS

The UBS brokerage division, formally known as UBS Wealth Management, has been hammered by customer outflows amid management disarray and the market slump. UBS bought the unit—then known as Painewebber—in 2000 for more than $10 billion. UBS wants to get margins up first and would then have time to sell unit down the road.

McCann left Merrill Lynch after Bank of America purchased the firm last year.

At one point he was considered a possible successor to former CEO Stan O'Neal. However he clashed with O'Neal's successor John Thain, which led to his departure.

Since leaving BofA last year McCann has made no secret of his desire to return to Wall Street in a top role. He was contacted by Hartford Insurance as it looks for a CEO, but took himself out of the running.

It's unclear if current UBS brokerage chief Marten Hoekstra will be pushed aside or leave UBS if and when the new brokerage chief is selected.

UBS had no comment.

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