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(Bloomberg) -- Julius Baer Group Ltd. Boris Collardi Chief Executive Officer said Switzerland’s third-largest lender is not among bidders for Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s international private-banking operations.
“It’s a great franchise but for us we would have preferred this deal to come with a platform,” Collardi, 40, said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, referring to customer-services infrastructure. Asked whether the bank is considering a bid for Coutts International, he said, “we are looking from the outside for the time being.”
RBS’s Coutts International unit could fetch $600 million to $900 million, a person familiar with the sale said in December. Britain’s largest state-owned lender is seeking to sell the international unit of Coutts, based in Zurich, as it shifts its focus on wealthy clients in its home market.
Coutts International had 32.6 billion francs ($38 billion) in assets under management at the end of 2013. RBS isn’t selling the U.K. arm of the private bank, which counts Queen Elizabeth II among its customers.
DBS Group Holdings Ltd. is in talks to team up with Societe Generale SA in a bid for Coutts International, people familiar with the matter said last month. Reuters reported last week that Julius Baer is among 10 potential bidders.
Linda Harper, a spokeswoman at RBS, declined to comment.
Commenting on last week’s decision by the Swiss central bank to abolish a three-year cap preventing the Swiss franc from rising above 1.20 francs per euro, Collardi said the move “makes it more difficult for everybody.”
“If you’re a typical Swiss private bank, you probably have international clients, you probably have 95 percent of your revenue in non-Swiss francs and you’ll have 98 percent of your cost in Swiss francs,” he said. “That’s a big hit.”
Shares in Julius Baer dropped about 24 percent in Zurich trading in the two days after the Swiss National Bank’s decision a week ago. The franc surged against the euro.
The number of private banks in Switzerland will probably continue to shrink, Collardi said, referring to about 139 firms as per 2013, down from 180 eight years earlier.
“I don’t see the macro environment changing -- we will probably get in the hundreds in the next five years from now, I think that’s quite obvious,” he said. “It’s the smaller ones that are more at risk.”
--With assistance from Jan Schwalbe in Zurich and Richard Partington in London.
To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at firstname.lastname@example.org; Zoe Schneeweiss in Davos at email@example.com To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elisa Martinuzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org Simone Meier, Cindy Roberts