Ermotti declines comment on UBS's role in "inevitable" European banking consolidation

ZURICH, Sept 22 (Reuters) - UBS Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti joined other banking executives on Tuesday in declaring consolidation of the European sector “inevitable”, declining to comment on whether Switzerland’s biggest bank plans to participate.

“Of course, I will abstain to talk about UBS,” Ermotti said at the virtual Bank of America Merrill Lynch Annual Financials CEO Conference.

“But I can reiterate... You heard me say, particularly in the last year or two years, I felt the debate in Europe was too focused on ‘too big to fail’, and rather should have been ‘too small to survive, to small to compete.’ Now, I think, already since late (2019), and since COVID, things are crystal clear. As I mentioned a few quarters ago, the train left the station in that sense, and consolidation is inevitable.”

Ermotti, who is due to be replaced by former ING head Ralph Hamers in November, said regulators had been vocal in the last few months about their openness to consolidation that made sense, adding they were right to oppose deals that did not add value. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields)