Union Bancaire Privee Patriarch Dies

Edgar de Picciotto (1929-2016)

Edgar de Picciotto (1929-2016)

After a long illness Edgar de Picciotto, the founder and chairman of Union Bancaire Privee has passed away aged 86.

«He will leave a deep personal imprint on Union Bancaire Privee (UBP), which he made into one of the greatest family-owned banks in the world, with his ability for lateral thinking, talent for connecting with people and foresight helping to shape the bank’s corporate culture,» the bank said in a statement.

Lebanese-born of Jewish descent de Picciotto studied engineering before he fled with his family in the 1950’s from Beirut through Italy to Switzerland. In 1955 he moved to Geneva, where he established the Compagnie de Banque et d’Investissements (CBI) in Geneva in 1969.

Building an Empire

Under de Picciotto’s leadership CBI undertook numerous acquisitions. The largest of these was the capture of TDB-American Express Bank in 1990, which led to the creation of the current entity, Union Bancaire Privée (UBP). After taking over the Discount Bank and Trust Company in 2002, UBP chose to concentrate its efforts on organic growth.

Since 2010, UBP has undertaken several external growth operations, the bank has consistently grown its wealth management activities while reinforcing its alternative investment expertise, notably by acquiring the Swiss subsidiary of the ABN AMRO group, the international private banking business of Lloyds, and also Nexar Capital Group, a major player in the alternative investment space.

In Asia UBP has most recently partnered with a leading asset management team in China to found a new company, UBP Investment Management, in Shanghai and has acquired the Asian operations of the RBS subsidiary Coutts.

Madoff Exposure

In 2008 when the Bernard Madoff scandal unfolded, UBP was considered vulnerable with one of its feeder funds holding $700 million in Madoff related investments through its funds of funds and client portfolios. The bank witnessed a rapid outflow of business, with assets under management falling by a quarter.

Not least thanks to the courageous intervention of the then almost 80-year-old de Picciotto in the operational management, he managed to lead his bank back on track. 

UBP subsequently settled with the trustee for the Madoff business for up to $500 million, it also unveiled a goodwill gesture in the form of a loyalty incentive scheme for five years aimed at compensating clients - considered a key step in reassuring investors back to the bank in the following years.

The de Picciotto family succession at UBP is considered secure, with several members of the family working at the bank including Daniel de Picciotto and Anne Rotman de Picciotto.


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