Julius Baer has agreed to acquire a 95% stake in Brazilian wealth manager Reliance Group.

Sao Paulo-based Reliance, founded in 1998, offers wealth management services to high and ultra-high net worth individuals. The firm employs 70 people and manages around BRL17bn ($5.3bn) in assets.

The deal increases Julius Baer’s client assets to approximately BRL44bn in Brazil. The bank already operates in Brazil through its subsidiary GPS Investimentos (GPS), which manages BRL27bn in assets and employs more than 120 staff.

Reliance will continue to be headed by its 13 existing partners. Julius Baer said it expects the deal to impact its BIS capital ratios by less than 50 basis points.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected be wrapped up in the second quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approval.

Commenting on the acquisition, Julius Baer head for Latin America and member of the executive board, Beatriz Sanchez, said: “The combination will form the undisputed leading independent wealth manager in Brazil and demonstrates our long-term commitment to this core strategic market.”

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Julius Baer 2017 results

In separate news, Julius Baer has reported adjusted net profit of CHF806m for the year ended 31 December 2017, an increase of 14% compared to CHF705.5m a year ago.

On IFRS basis, net profit attributable to shareholders was CHF705m, an increase of 14% compared to last year. Operating income also rose 14% year-on-year to CHF3.25bn.

Net commission and fee income surged 23% to CHF1.93bn compared to last year. The company said that the rise was due to improvement in asset-based fee income and strong growth in client transaction commissions.

Net trading income dipped 9% year-on-year to CHF304m. Adjusted operating expenses rose 13% to CHF2.26bn from CHF2bn a year earlier.

Assets under management (AuM) totalled CHF388.4bn at the end of December 2017, up 15% compared with CHF336.2bn at the end of 2016.

The bank attributed the rise in AuM to market performance of CHF34bn, net new money of CHF22bn, positive currency impact of CHF2bn, and a small net positive acquisition impact of CHF0.3bn.

Julius Baer Group CEO, Bernhard Hodler, said: “I want to continue to sharpen the pure-play private banking strategy that sets us apart, and to position Julius Baer as the trusted adviser to our clients. We will also invest in further improving our tools and processes to support our relationship managers in providing holistic advice to our clients.

“Thanks to our unique positioning, we are well placed to take advantage of international expansion and hiring opportunities.”