Julius Baer CEO Hints at Search for Megadeals to Boost Scale
(Bloomberg) -- Julius Baer Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Philipp Rickenbacher gave his strongest hint yet that the Swiss bank is seeking a deal big enough to rival its 2012 acquisition of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s international wealth management operations.
A transaction that adds at least 100 billion francs ($118 billion) of assets “could be a reality” in the future, though it will depend on the quality of the business and the price, he said on an earnings call on Monday.
Switzerland’s third-largest wealth manager expects the country’s regulator to lift a ban on large transactions that it imposed on the bank last year. That could pave the way for bigger deals to gain critical mass in key markets.
“Look at our past and look at what kind of transactions we have done,” the CEO said. “The larger transactions have been a reality, they obviously could be a reality again in the future.”
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The 2012 acquisition under former CEO Boris Collardi boosted its market share and added wealth units in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia with a total of $84 billion in assets.
“It’s a question of will there be targets available at what quality and obviously at what price,” Rickenbacher said, adding that the bank is focused on organic growth this year and next. “We are actively looking in the market, but we will see how this will play out over the next few years.”
Collardi led a period of breakneck expansion during his tenure through nearly a dozen acquisitions and joint ventures. That later sparked investigations into how well the bank had vetted its clients and monitored their business activities. A regulatory probe into the bank’s Latin America business eventually resulted in Finma’s ban on large transactions last year.
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