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UBS Shares Fall as Rights Issue Disappoints

Shares in Switzerland's UBS wobbled on Monday as the bank's rights issue stuttered towards the finishing line.

UBS - once a rock of Swiss financial prowess but now Europe's biggest loser in the global financial turmoil - is concluding a rights issue to repair its ravaged finances.

But investors have found it hard to muster enthusiasm for extra stock in a bank which has burned its way through $37 billion in write-down during the credit crisis.

Since the start of the rights trading, the bank's shares have tumbled by around 17 percent to about 24 Swiss francs, a signal many see as a thumbs down for management. The subscription price for the new shares has been set at 21 francs.

"All the people I have met are so unhappy with what's happened," said Helvea analyst Peter Thorne. "There is no confidence in the management or the company's strategy. I cannot see them investing more money in UBS."

"The traditional shareholders for UBS would be growth funds investing in private banking but in the low risk category. The new shareholders are recovery funds. And the recovery funds are driving a hard bargain."

As rumors swirled that the Swiss bank was heading for a loss in the second quarter, its shares dipped up to 9 percent on Monday. Trade in the stock and rights issue were both suspended later in the session while a mis-trade was investigated.

UBS shares were 3.2 percent lower at 23.82 francs and trade in the rights issue fell 27.8 percent to 0.91 francs.

Thorne's comments were echoed elsewhere. "They have issued the shares and that's the most important thing but it wasn't a big vote of confidence from shareholders," said Dirk Becker, an analyst with Landsbanki Kepler.

"It is the last trading day for the rights. Banks are chucking them into the market now," said one trader.

This is the second time that UBS has had to fatten its capital base. It wants to raise roughly 16 billion francs ($15.70 billion).

In February, shareholders grudgingly approved an injection of 13 billion Swiss francs from Singapore and an unnamed Middle East investor.

Appetite for fresh shares this time around has been sapped because banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland are also going cap in hand to shareholders.