Switzerland's Julius Baer still seeking Bank Sarasin

Bidding for whole stake in private bank

Swiss private bank Julius Baer is still interested in fully acquiring Bank Sarasin and expects to hear a decision on their offer in the next week, a senior executive said in Dubai on Wednesday. 

"We are always looking at acquisitions. Sarasin is still being considered," Remy Bersier, member of the executive board at Julius Baer, told a press conference. 

"We expect to hear from them in a week's time. It's never good when it takes a lot of time," he added. 

A bank has been mandated to advise Julius Baer on the acquisition, Bersier said, but he didn't elaborate on who they were. "It's good to have a partner in such deals," he said. 

The Netherlands' Rabobank is a potential seller of its 46 per cent stake in Bank Sarasin, which equates to 68 percent of voting rights, while Swiss cooperative lender Raiffeisen has been linked with a bid.    

Senior management at Bank Sarasin are said to favour the Dutch firm, writing a letter to the board asking to resist Julius Baer's offer, as it would keep the bank independent. "Julius Baer should be a strong partner for Sarasin. We see a cultural fit and a strategic fit. It's a matter of price now," Bersier said.  

Julius Baer was reportedly offering 39 Swiss francs per share, which would value Sarasin at about 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.73bn), according to the Tagesanzeiger newspaper.  

The asset base at Switzerland's third-biggest wealth manager after UBS and Credit Suisse is expected to improve in the second half of the year, Bersier said. 

"In the first half of the year, we suffered from the low dollar. We expect the second half of the year to be better in terms of asset base," he said. 

Assets under management through October stood unchanged from June at 166 billion francs. 

The bank expects to take a 50 million Swiss francs charge for a cost-cutting programme that includes the 150 job cuts confirmed by management earlier this month, it said last week.   

Julius Baer has expanded aggressively in the Middle East and Asia and would continue to do so, according to a separate executive. "We aim to add senior relationship managers in the next two-three years in the region," Peter Schaer, managing director and chief executive for the bank's Middle East operations, said. 

In June, it named Edmond Carton as head of its Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region.   

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