Sergio Ermotti, the suave new boss of UBS AG , could signal the Swiss bank's return to dividend payments later on Thursday as part of plans to slash risky investment banking and re-focus on the core business of managing the assets of the world's wealthy.

The bank will detail restructuring plans when it meets investors at an annual event in New York and is likely to set a new return-on-equity target of between 10 and 15 percent, against a previous target of 15 to 20 percent that it had already abandoned.

UBS does not plan to announce major job cuts at the event, a source told Reuters on Tuesday. In August, UBS said it would cut 3,500 jobs -- some 5 percent of its workforce -- in a bid to save 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.2 billion) annually.

Ermotti, interim chief executive since Oswald Gruebel quit in September over the bank's $2.3 billion rogue trading scandal, was made permanent boss on Tuesday.

Analysts predict Ermotti will pledge to award in 2012 its first cash dividend since 2006, when it paid out 2.20 Swiss francs a share. Massive losses in the financial crisis forced UBS to stop dividend payments as it sought to rebuild capital.

UBS management could use a capital return story to try and offset disappointment from a lowered return-on-equity target and medium-term targets, Bank of America (BofA) Merrill Lynch's Derek DeVries wrote in a note.


UBS management have been working on a new strategy for months and executives said the trading scandal uncovered in September had not changed the broad thrust -- to put far more focus on the private bank, the world's third-largest by assets according to an annual benchmark survey by Scorpio Partnership.

The shift is likely to relegate the investment bank to a provider of services to the private bank.

Like others in the industry, UBS's investment bank is being forced to slash riskier assets ahead of a glut of tough new capital regulations that will make some businesses, particularly fixed income, too expensive.

Banks worldwide are shedding thousands of jobs as the rules aimed at shielding them from future financial crises compound the impact of a tough trading environment, as investors stay on the sidelines amid the euro zone's debt crisis.

UBS, which had started to restore client confidence after a 2008 government bailout following more than $50 billion in write-downs on illiquid securities, has not paid out to shareholders since 2007, when it made a modest stock dividend.

The role of UBS investment banking head Carsten Kengeter will also be in focus on Thursday. Seen as a possible CEO candidate before the trading scandal, his future has since been in doubt, although Ermotti on Tuesday confirmed his position in his top team.

But the bank is struggling to draw a line under the scandal. Kweku Adoboli, the London-based trader accused of amassing the losses, is preparing to enter a plea next week, while another unauthorized trading case involving UBS's UK wealth management arm has again hit the headlines.

Two years after UBS paid a penalty and overhauled control systems, the former head of its UK wealth management (WM) business, John Pottage, is challenging an individual fine imposed by Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulator.

The FSA targeted Pottage for his alleged failings as chief executive of the unit between September 2006 and July 2007. UBS is only an interested party in the case.

UBS has already acknowledged that there were weaknesses in certain aspects of WM UK's control environment, the bank said in a statement.

($1 = 0.917 Swiss Francs)

(Additional reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Emma Thomasson and David Holmes)