M and A

UBP Buys Coutts International As M&A Merry-Go-Round In Industry Continues

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, Geneva, 27 March 2015

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In an announcement confirming press speculation this week, the Swiss private bank has agreed to buy the non-UK private banking and wealth arms of RBS.

Union Bancaire Privée, the Geneva-headquartered bank, confirmed today it has agreed to acquire Royal Bank of Scotland’s international private banking and wealth businesses under the Coutts brand.

The sale, which follows RBS’s decision to create a UK-focused bank, includes business managed from Switzerland, Monaco, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong, and assets under management of over SFr30 billion ($31 billion).

A report yesterday in the Financial Times claimed that the purchase price – which was not disclosed in statements by the banks today – was between $600 million and $800 million. This publication understands that this range of figures is an overestimate of the actual price paid by UBP.

As UBP has in the past told WealthBriefing that acquisitions are a part of its strategy – the firm has already bought units such as the international private banking arm of Lloyds Banking Group – today’s announcement is not a surprise. It comes at the end of a bidding process said to have included Singapore-headquartered DBS Group. (To see an interview with the firm, click here.

“The acquisition represents a major step forward in the bank’s growth strategy, enabling it to both broaden its wealth management activities and to further its global reach,” UBP said in a statement.

"The acquisition is an excellent strategic and geographic fit as the international business of Coutts has a strong foothold in markets where, until this point, UBP had a limited presence. UBP will also strengthen its presence in Switzerland and in Monaco, significantly boost its footprint in growth markets such as Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and considerably increase its asset base in select European markets,” it continued.

Guy de Picciotto, UBP’s chief executive, said: “This acquisition confirms our commitment in further developing our wealth management business and represents a significant milestone in our growth strategy. This is particularly true for high-potential markets such as Asia, where the international business of Coutts has built long-standing relationships with high net worth clients. We look forward to welcoming the new teams; their breadth of know-how in wealth management will perfectly complement our investment management expertise.” 

The transaction, carried out with the support of Caurus Partners and TC Capital, remains subject to the requisite regulatory and other approvals being obtained. In this regard UBP will seek to obtain a banking licence in Hong Kong, subject to the approval of the local regulatory authority.

(To see recent results from UBP, see here.  The bank's Asia private banking head is to step down this year - see here.

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