January 22, 2018 / 6:48 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-UBS shareholders set for bigger payout despite US tax overhaul hit

(Adds detail, CEO comment)

ZURICH, Jan 22 (Reuters) - UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank, on Monday proposed an increased dividend and new share buyback programme despite a hefty writedown from a tax overhaul in the United States.

The bank posted a 2.2 billion Swiss franc ($2.3 billion) net loss for the fourth quarter of 2017 as the U.S. tax reforms saddled it with a 2.9 billion franc writedown. Pretax earnings rose 34 percent.

The bank also lowered capital targets through 2020 and decoupled its shareholder payout policy from a previous capital ratio floor, ahead of an anticipated drag on its finances from new international rules known as Basel III.

"Greater regulatory clarity means we can open a new chapter for UBS, allowing us to sharpen our focus on growth across our businesses, make further investments in technology and deliver attractive returns to shareholders," Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti said in a statement.

The bank proposed an increased dividend of 0.65 francs per share, matching analysts' expectation for a dividend hike from 0.60 francs the year before.

The bank also said it was launching a three-year share buyback programme of up to 2 billion francs, to begin in March.

Announcing it would be combining Wealth Management Americas and Wealth Management into one unified Global Wealth Management division, the bank set targets for 2-4 percent net new money growth per year. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; editing by John O'Donnell)

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