Julius Baer May Acquire Asian Rival

Zurich-based Julius Baer is one of three banks eager to expand its private-banking business in Asia through a takeover.

Julius Baer, Singapore's DBS and LGT Bank of Liechtenstein all want to buy the Asian private-banking unit of ABN Amro, according to a «Bloomberg» report, which cited insiders. The Zurich-based bank has been mentioned as a potential buyer before.

The three banks are interested in the business and are currently evaluating the details, the insider told «Bloomberg». ABN Amro wants to conclude a deal by the end of the year to prevent any uncertainty among its customers.

The potential buyers didn't comment the report, according to «Bloomberg».

Branches in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai

ABN Amro may want to sell the private-banking division in Asia for about $300 to $350 million. That corresponds to about 1.5 to 1.75 percent of assets under management. The bank at the end of last year had assets worth $19 billion in Asia. It employs 130 bankers and has branches in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.

Much like elsewhere, private banking has become a tougher business in Asia too. A tightening regulatory framework, cost-sensitive customers and difficult market conditions have squeezed margins – with the current wave of mergers and acquisitions coming as no surprise.

Recently, Bank of Singapore, the private-banking unit of OCBC, acquired DZ Privatbank of Singapore. Not long ago, the same bank also concluded the integration of Barclays Wealth.

Two years ago, DBS had bought the Asian business of Société Générale.


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