Veteran German banker Martin Blessing will replace Juerg Zeltner as the head of UBS's market-leading wealth management business at the turn of the year, Switzerland's biggest bank said today. 

Blessing, former head of Germany's Commerzbank, has run UBS's Swiss business since September 2016. 

Zeltner, who has worked for UBS for more than three decades, will retire in 2018, the bank said in a statement. 

The move sparked speculation that Blessing, 54, was now in pole position to succeed chief executive Sergio Ermotti, who has given no signs of wanting to stand down any time soon. 

UBS Chairman Axel Weber, the former head of the Bundesbank, is also German. 

UBS's wealth management business boosted pretax profit by 16% in the third quarter as net new money increased. It managed 1.1 trillion Swiss francs ($1.12 trillion) in invested assets as of the end of September. 

Axel Lehmann, the current chief operating officer, will succeed Blessing as the head of UBS Switzerland. 

Zeltner's departure is the second major move in Swiss private banking within weeks after Boris Collardi abruptly quit his job as Julius Baer chief executive to join Geneva-based Pictet.

Baer declined to comment on whether Zeltner could be a CEO candidate.