BTG takeover of BSI releases unexpected forces

After months of waiting, the sale of Swiss private bank BSI to the Brazilian financial firm BTG Pactual is finally complete. Meanwhile BSI has been hit by surprise departures in the booming Asian market, reveals.

Just last month, the Ticino-based private bank BSI confirmed that the takeover by Brazilian BTG Pactual was complete – more than a year after the deal was initially announced.

This brought an end to a phase that was marked by turbulence related to the international tax dispute (article in German) as well as severe cost cutting. However the bank has yet to reach calm waters.

Research by and the Singapore finance website «Asian Wealth Times» confirms that BSI’s important Asian business is losing a whole team of client advisors.

Destination Credit Suisse

Jayaram 160Several sources have independently reported that up to five client advisors under the leadership of Ashwin Jayaram (left) have left the BSI offices in Singapore. It is no secret in the sector where the ex-BSI bankers are going – to the Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse, the third largest wealth manager in Asia. In future Jayaram will report to Balakrishnan Kunambath, who recently moved from DBS bank to Credit Suisse in the Asian city state and is now responsible for the non-resident Indian (NRI) business.

When asked by, BSI refused to confirm or deny the departures. “It is not up to us to speculate about employees’ reasons for leaving,” a bank spokesman said. Fluctuation is known to be very high in this business – and BSI will also be announcing new hires shortly. Credit Suisse also declined to comment.

Deferred offensive

Nevertheless, insiders describe the defection as a “major loss” for BSI. All the more so because BSI’s long-serving Asia boss, Hanspeter Brunner, had been planning to use the merger as a springboard for a large-scale market offensive.

Back in February, Brunner revealed that the head count of 240 in Singapore and Hong Kong would be increased by 80. At the same time hopes were pinned on Raj Sriram, the newly-appointment head of private banking.

Since then there hasn’t been any talk of a major breakthrough at BSI in Asia, which is after all the growth engine of the whole group. Instead Brunner has lost Jayaram after sharing many years of banking history together.

Coutts, BSI and ABB

Indian-born Jayaram previously served under Brunner in the then RBS Coutts Bank in Singapore, before its Asian team moved to BSI in 2009 in a surprise coup.

Before that Jayaram worked at Citigroup and HSBC in India – although his first job was as a project leader for the Swiss engineering group ABB. Most recently in BSI he occupied the position of team leader and managing director internally and was just below executive management level in the hierarchy.

Warning to Thiam & Co

For Credit Suisse, which is expected to announce a swift expansion in Asia under its new boss Tidjane at the end of October, additions such as the BSI team are highly welcome.

At the same time the defections like these should serve as a warning to the Swiss bank and to all other private banks with ambitions in Asia. In the hard-fought boom market takeovers release more powerful forces than in other regions. And they can have surprising effects.

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