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Safra clan take over Swiss bank

The Safra family is making a return to Swiss private banking after an absence of 17 years, buying Zurich's Uto bank for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is the work of one of the famous Safra brothers, Joseph. "Switzerland is an important strategic base for international banking business," he said in a statement, "and the bank can build on 150 years of experience and tradition of the Safra family."

The new institution is to be renamed Bank Jacob Safra after the family patriarch who founded the banking empire in Lebanon at the beginning of the last century.

Joseph's brother, Moise, said he was pleased that the bank would keep the memory of their father alive.

The new institution will employ around 20 people and plans to expand to include a Geneva branch. It plans to focus on private banking. Elie Sassoon has been named to head fund operations.

A third brother, Edmond, had long-standing connnections with Geneva and was regarded as one of the world's wealthiest men.

In the 1970s, he built up the private Trade Development Bank which he sold to American Express in 1983. Edmond died last December when a fire raged through his Monaco appartment.

swissinfo with agencies

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