JULIUS Baer, in talks with Bank of America about buying Merrill Lynch’s non-US wealth management unit, is particularly interested in its presence in Asia and Latin America, chief executive Boris Collardi told a newspaper yesterday.
Asked by Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag what was attractive about this deal, Collardi was quoted as saying: “The strong presence in Asian and Latin American growth markets would be interesting.”
But he said they were still in the middle of talks and that the outcome was “at this stage completely open”.
Asked whether Bear needed to raise fresh capital to fund the deal, Collardi said: “As I said, at the moment everything is still up in the air.”
Consolidation in the wealth management industry has been a major theme since the 2008 financial crisis, as an increase in costs and regulation force some players to sell off units and others – like Baer – to seek to improve margins through scale. But before buying businesses in Europe, Collardi said he was awaiting withholding tax agreements targeting tax evaders, which could come into effect next year with Germany and Austria.
He said he was thinking instead about entering the Indian market while also assessing the situation in mainland China. Switzerland is also trying to resolve a dispute with the US over wealthy Americans who sheltered money in secret bank accounts to avoid taxes.
Collardi said talks with US authorities were advanced but that the green light from the government in Berne was needed before client names could be handed over.
The Swiss government still hopes an overall deal to cover the whole Swiss banking sector can be achieved this year.
City A.M. Reporter