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Banque Syz & Co Says Might Be Suitor For Part Of Coutts' International Business

Tom Burroughes

18 August 2014

Now that , the Geneva-headquartered private bank.

Coutts has a Zurich-based private banking business. It also has operations in regions such as Asia.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Eric Syz, owner and co-founder of the eponymous firm, was quoted saying: “We might be one of the contenders for part of Coutts, but it depends how it’s sliced and diced. Nobody’s seen the details of what’s for sale, or whether they might sell it in tranches to different buyers”.

Syz & Co is seeking to acquire businesses with between SFr1 billion ($1.1 billion) and SFr10 billion of client assets under management, he is quoted as having said. The company had SFr35 billion at the end of June.

This publication contacted Banque Syz & Co and Coutts about the report; neither bank wished to comment.

interviewed Banque Syz & Co recently at its offices in Rue de Rhône, Geneva, and the bank stressed that its youth – it was founded in 1996 – means that it doesn’t come with some of the reputational baggage of its older peers when it comes to undeclared cash. With that issue in mind, the bank will want to be careful that if it does buy other businesses in Switzerland that any assets are fully regularised.

Syz is quoted as saying the bank has examined about five businesses in Switzerland and the rest of Europe as potential takeover targets. Syz said the company isn’t for sale and he associates the firm alongside a group of Swiss wealth managers considered the “consolidators” in a market where deals are expected to accelerate.

A number of banks in the country are thinking of M&A; WealthBriefing was told, for example, by the private banking boss at Union Bancaire Privée that acquisitions are still on the table (see here). Other banks such as Julius Baer and Credit Suisse have bought assets in the past couple of years.

A week ago, RBS, which is majority-owned by the UK taxpayer, confirmed industry speculation that it was looking to reduce its international private banking footprint (see more here). Ever since the bank was bailed out after the 2008 crisis, there have been concerns over whether a private bank could comfortably operate under the arms of a state-owned parent.