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Sarasin, Vontobel Merger Not Ruled Out

Stephen Harris 26 March 2007

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The strategy at Bank Sarasin & Co is to transform a small, traditional Basel private bank serving a mature market into a dynamic company recognised in the high-growth countries of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, Joachim Straehle, chief executive officer told Le Temps in an interview.

Mr Straehle's strategy is to develop an international network of offices headed by local managers, and to capitalise on Rabobank’s triple-A credit rating and to exploit the "fantastic" synergies between Sarasin and its Dutch parent.

Reports that Sarasin has discussed a possible merger with Bank Vontobel of Zurich were not denied, but Mr Straehle said such talks are "normal in our business" and Sarasin has also talked with other banks.

Mr Straehle said the bank is looking for good opportunities but it is only interested in the right partner with the right strategy at the right price.

"If we find that, in Switzerland, London, India or elsewhere, I would sign right away," he said.

By 2010, the bank estimates that 70 per cent of its clients will still be managed in Switzerland, with 60 per cent of them offshore and 40 per cent onshore.

Thirty per cent will be clients of the international network.

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