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Vontobel Buys Swiss Business From Commerzbank

Tom Burroughes Editor London 31 July 2009

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Germany’s Commerzbank continued its selloff of non-domestic assets by selling Commerzbank (Schweiz) to the Swiss-based Vontobel Group for an undisclosed sum.

The Swiss unit of Commerzbank is headquartered in Zurich and has a branch in Geneva, as well as a subsidiary in Vienna. It had shareholders’ equity of SFr214 million ($197 million) and total assets of SFr706 million at the end of last year, with a total of 127 staff, Vontobel said in statement.

"A key element of our growth strategy is that Vontobel should play an active role in the ongoing consolidation within our industry," said Herbert Scheidt, chief executive of the Vontobel Group.

"The acquisition of Commerzbank (Schweiz) AG represents a classic win-win situation. On the one hand, it will allow us to increase the momentum of our private banking activities, as planned, and to continue developing them systematically. On the other hand, it means that our new clients will also be able to profit from our business model, which focuses on financial solidity and security. As a traditional Swiss private bank, we are committed to this prudent and forward-looking model," he added.

Commerzbank, which has received state funds from the German government to bolster its finances, has been disposing of non-German assets as a condition of receiving such aid under European Union market rules. Earlier this week it was announced that LGT Group, the Liechtenstein-based wealth manager, is to buy Dresdner Bank (Switzerland) from Commerzbank. The German bank has also put its UK wealth management business, Kleinwort Benson, up for sale.

As a result of the deal with Vontobel, the volume of assets managed by the Vontobel Group's private banking business will increase by 20 per cent to around SFr28 billion, based on numbers from the end of 2008.

The transaction is subject to the approval of the relevant authorities.

The merger is due to take place in the first three months of next year.

Peter Fanconi, head of private banking at the Vontobel Group, regards the strategic strengthening of operations in the core markets of Switzerland, Western and Eastern Europe and Latin America as a key success factor.

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