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May 1, 2008

News Digest

UKSG Hambros buys ABN AMROs London operationsSG Hambros Bank, the UK private banking arm of Socit Gnrale, will add £1 billion ($2 billion) to its assets under management after the acquisition of the London-based private banking business of ABN AMRO The deal, at an undisclosed purchase price, is understood to have been very attractive for SG.Eric Barnett, SG Hambross group head of private banking, will oversee the integration of the new business.This acquisition follows a number of years of rapid growth since Hambros Bank was itself acquired by Socit Gnrale in 1998 to develop private banking in the UK and the Channel Islands, said SG Hambros chief executive Warwick Newbury

By Verdict Staff

UK

SG Hambros buys ABN AMRO’s London operations

SG Hambros Bank, the UK private banking arm of Société Générale, will add £1 billion ($2 billion) to its assets under management after the acquisition of the London-based private banking business of ABN AMRO. The deal, at an undisclosed purchase price, is understood to have been very attractive for SG.

Eric Barnett, SG Hambros’s group head of private banking, will oversee the integration of the new business.

“This acquisition follows a number of years of rapid growth since Hambros Bank was itself acquired by Société Générale in 1998 to develop private banking in the UK and the Channel Islands,” said SG Hambros chief executive Warwick Newbury. “We look forward to welcoming both staff and the clients of ABN AMRO Private Banking London.”

ABN has been struggling in the UK wealth market, marked by a number of staff defections in recent months. In addition, the Dutch group itself is faced with the uncertainty involved in the respective bids from Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland-led consortium.

Switzerland

Andreas Sarasin leaves ‘family’ bank

Andreas R Sarasin, head of trading and logistics at Bank Sarasin, is leaving with immediate effect because of what the Swiss bank called “differences of opinion” about its future direction. Bank Sarasin CEO Joachim Straehle will take over as acting head of trading and logistics.

At the same time, the trading business unit will be transferred to the asset management, products and sales division, where it will be integrated as an additional business unit.

Andreas Sarasin, who has spent the last 25 years working for Bank Sarasin, is also stepping down from the bank’s executive committee.

“The board of directors and executive committee regret the circumstances that led up to this decision,” according to a Sarasin statement.

Rabobank of the Netherlands is now the majority shareholder of Sarasin.

Spain

Global private banking division for Santander

Banco Santander is to create a global private banking division with €100 billion ($140 billion) in assets under management. The new operation will combine all Santander’s international private banking businesses except the units of the Santander network in Spain or of its retail arm Banco Español de Crédito.

Santander’s international private banking businesses include Cater Allen, James Hay and Abbey Share dealing in the UK and Santander Private Banking in Italy.

The combined division will be led by Javier Marin, currently chief executive of its wealth arm, Banif.

Asia-Pacific

VP expands in Hong Kong and Singapore

VP Bank, the Liechtenstein wealth manager, has opened an asset management company in Hong Kong, called VP Wealth Management (Hong Kong). VP Bank already has a representative office in Hong Kong. It also plans to open a bank in Singapore by the end of 2007.

“By supplementing the representative office with an asset management company, VP Bank is taking another step to enhancing its wealth consulting activities and presence in the Asian region,” said Adolf E Real, VP Bank Group’s chief executive.

Clare Lam, a VP Bank executive director and deputy chief representative for VP Bank in Hong Kong since 2006, heads the new venture.

South Africa

UBS looks for more African clients

UBS is to open a wealth management advisory office in South Africa to expand its current operations in Africa’s biggest economy, adding to its existing investment banking services in the country.

“UBS is a globally active financial services firm with wealth management as a core business. We therefore target markets with a significant concentration of wealth,” said Juerg A Schalch, designated head of UBS Wealth Management South Africa.

South Africa’s wealth management and private banking industries have mushroomed in recent years as a booming economy and affirmative action policies created increasing numbers of wealthy blacks. The World Wealth Report estimated that the population of high net worth individuals in the country rose 13.3 percent to total 48,000 last year.

UK

Marianne Hay exits Citigroup

Marianne Hay, head of Citigroup’s Global Wealth Management business in Europe, has left the bank to “pursue other opportunities”, amid Citi’s latest reorganisation of senior management ranks.

She has been replaced by Catherine Weir, formerly a managing director and head of Citi Markets and Banking (CMB) for the ASEAN region, covering Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Akbar Shah, head of the Middle East, moves to the Asia-Pacific region to manage its Mega Wealth unit.

Weir, a 20-year Citi veteran, will manage the two businesses as a combined unit effective 1 September, based in London.

Citi also appointed Samir Raslan, currently head of investments for Citi Global Wealth Management Asia-Pacific, as head of its Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) business, reporting to Weir. He takes up his new appointment in October. Within the CEEMEA operation, Muwaffak Bibi, who currently leads the Saudi Arabia and Levant business, has been promoted to manage a larger business covering the Middle East and North Africa.

Switzerland

Clariden Leu reshuffles senior management

Clariden Leu, the Swiss private bank owned by Credit Suisse, reshuffled management roles and retrenched after the defection of a key executive, Beat Wittmann, to rival Julius Baer earlier this year. It named private banking head Hans Nuetzi as deputy chief executive. He will also be head of a new investment products division where he replaces Wittmann, who left for Baer in June. Wittmann, whose new role at Baer hasn’t been publicly disclosed yet, was one of three top Clariden Leu executives who ran the bank, along with private banking head Nuetzi and chief executive Bernard Stalder.

Stalder will now manage Clariden Leu’s private banking arm while Nuetzi will run product units such as the funds and structured products businesses.

The bank is also cutting its Zurich branches from 15 to six by the fourth quarter.

UK

Weatherill to set up advisory venture

Bruce Weatherill, the head of the global private banking and wealth management practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is due to leave the firm next year. Weatherill, a PwC partner for the past 20 years, plans to set up a firm providing advice and mentoring to a small number of clients. He has overseen the PwC Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Reports, which have appeared on a regular basis since 1993 and are among the major benchmarking studies on global wealth.

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