EFG International and BSI: Who Will Take Care of the Russians?

Michael Vlahovich, EFG International

Michael Vlahovich, EFG International

With the integration of EFG International and BSI, their respective businesses in Eastern Europe will likely be merged. The managers of the two units have a common past but hardly a common future.

Hanspeter Brunner, head of Asia at BSI private bank, is the first known victim of the takeover of the Lugano-based bank by EFG International. Brunner won't be the last though. The bankers taking care of Russian clients in Zurich are busy speculating which of the two bosses of the Eastern European teams will come up trumps.

The bankers are convinced that only one will survive the integration. The BSI and EFG brands will remain for two years, but at the end, the combined bank won't have two Eastern European teams.

Both Worked for Coutts

EFG International didn't want to comment about the speculation.

The talk is highlighting the careers of Andreas Schuepbach (pictured below) and Michael Vlahovich. Schuepbach is in charge of Central and Eastern European business at BSI in Zurich, while Vlahovich does the same at EFG.

Schupbach 500

The two have more than EFG/BSI in common: both worked for Coutts International in Zurich, which was bought by UBP a year ago. According to the commercial registry, Schuepbach joined BSI from Coutts in February 2010. Vlahovic in the same year moved from Credit Suisse to Coutts together with his entire team.

Two Big Guys – But Only One Job

Vlahovich at Coutts caught the headlines in connection with the takeover by UBP. Rumors had it that he had been about to join EFG at the beginning of 2015, which Coutts at the time denied. Immediately after the takeover of Coutts by UBP at the end of March of 2015, Vlahovich nevertheless joined EFG International.

His switch was noticed among colleagues because he is one of the stars of the banking with rich Eastern European clients.

Straehle's Choice

But Schuepbach is no pushover. He's an expert on wealth management with Russian clients. In February for example he took the stage at the Russian Wealth Advisors Forum in Zurich.

Two stars, one job: it will be up to EFG Chief Executive Joachim Straehle to decide, who is better placed to help the bank prosper.

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