Falcon Goes Onshore in Dubai

Erich Pfister (left) and Eduardo Leemann, Falcon Private Wealth Dubai

Erich Pfister (left) and Eduardo Leemann, Falcon Private Wealth Dubai

Falcon Private Bank finally will be able to serve its clients where they are. The company, controlled by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has received a banking license in the region.

Falcon Private Bank has branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There, it was however only allowed to advise its clients, to actually serve them with products, the customers had to board an aircraft and fly to Zurich or Singapore.

No more: the private bank has received a so-called '3c-banking-licence', the company said in a statement today. This license is not equal to a full banking license, Falcon also said. Erich Pfister, head of private banking, explained that Falcon will now offer its asset management services and actively sell its products.

Relocation to Dubai

Falcon Private Wealth will move to Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), where the bank expects to be able to offer its full range of services, custom-made to the needs of the clients, Falcon CEO Eduardo Leemann said. The Falcon unit in Dubai has a staff of 20 under managed by Ludovic Pernot, who took charge in 2014 after joining from Mirabaud.

Falcon manages about $2.5 billion in client assets in Dubai, according to press reports, and evidently wants to increase that figure. It will hire client advisers with a substantial client portfolio to that end.

It may come as a surprise that Falcon is expanding in Dubai and not Abu Dhabi, where its sponsors are based. But the bank, which previously was owned by AIG, decided in favor of Dubai, because its financial center is more important in the region.

Dark Clouds Remain

Erich Pfister remodeled the bank after joining from Credit Suisse, closing the Hong Kong branch in favor of Singapore. He also hired Febby Avianto in September as new head of Asia. Now Dubai is being repositioned following the award of a 3c license.

However, Falcon is still at the center of an investigation into a scandal involving 1MDB, the state fund of Malaysia. Cash to the tune of 681 million francs is said to have been sent to private accounts belonging to Najib Razak, president of Malaysia, via the Swiss bank. The Swiss federal prosecutor and MAS, the financial market regulator of Singapore, are investigating the case.

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