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(Bloomberg) -- Asia’s biggest private banks boosted their assets under management to a record last year, rebounding from a 2015 contraction, amid acquisitions that swelled some firms’ portfolio holdings.

Assets managed by the region’s top 20 private banks climbed by 6.1 percent to $1.55 trillion in 2016 from a year earlier, according to an Asian Private Banker report released Tuesday. The amount contracted 4.7 percent in 2015 as the region’s economic growth slowed and mounting regulatory pressure forced banks to reject some clients.

The 2016 figure was bolstered by Bank of Singapore’s purchase of Barclays Plc’s wealth-management units in Singapore and Hong Kong and Union Bancaire Privee’s acquisition of Coutts International. Private banks have been seeking to expand in the Asia-Pacific region, where individual wealth surpassed that of North America for the first time in 2015, according to a report by Cap Gemini SA.

Merger and acquisition “activity and heavy hiring had a positive effect on a number of banks in terms of scale,” Asian Private Banker editor Sebastian Enberg said in an email.

Bank of Singapore’s Barclays deal lifted its managed assets by 44 percent to $79 billion in 2016 from a year earlier, according to Asian Private Banker. That lifted the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. unit’s ranking among the region’s private banks to seventh from 11th, the publication said. It’s now joined sixth-ranked DBS Group Holdings Ltd. as the only Asia-based banks in the top 10, the list shows.

Union Bancaire Privee entered the top 20 for the first time -- albeit in 20th place -- after its acquisition saw the firm’s managed assets soar to $11.8 billion from $774 million a year earlier, Asian Private Banker said.

UBS Group AG retained the top rank with $286.4 billion in assets, while Citigroup Inc. kept its No. 2 spot with $218 billion of holdings. The top six positions were unchanged from 2015, according to Asian Private Banker.

--With assistance from Chanyaporn Chanjaroen

To contact the reporter on this story: Alfred Liu in Hong Kong at aliu226@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Marcus Wright at mwright115@bloomberg.net, Darren Boey, Robert Olsen

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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