UBS expands European wealth management base

UBS is one of Britain's top five wealth managers Keystone Archive

Swiss banking giant UBS has boosted its European wealth management portfolio for the second time in less than a fortnight.

This content was published on February 17, 2004 minutes

Switzerland’s biggest bank announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to buy the British-based financial adviser, Scott Goodman Harris, for an undisclosed fee.

Scott Goodman Harris is a leading life and pensions adviser, largely serving executives and company directors.

“The acquisition of Scott Goodman Harris fits in very well with the onshore private banking expansion strategy of UBS,” said analyst Claudia Meier of Bank Vontobel.

The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2004, subject to regulatory approval.

The announcement comes just days after the Zurich-based bank bought Britain’s Laing & Cruickshank Investment Management for £160 million (SFr373 million).

The purchase doubled the bank’s assets under management in Britain to £10 billion.

That acquisition was the biggest to date for UBS in its European private banking business – providing top-end services to the world’s wealthy – outside its home market in Switzerland.

Laing & Cruickshank

Over the past year, UBS has bought Merrill Lynch’s private client business in Germany and the French wealth management operations of Lloyds TSB.

"UBS is clearly aiming to build up its European private banking and wealth management business, moving away from its Swiss heartland," Hilary Cook, director of investment strategy at Barclays Stockbrokers, told swissinfo.

"Where it's been extremely successful is in looking to take that expertise into Germany, Britain and France. There aren't that many of these acquisitions around, but when businesses have come up for sale UBS is very much looking to buy them."

Last week the bank’s chief executive, Peter Wuffli, said UBS would continue to seek smaller takeovers.

His comments came as UBS - the world’s largest asset manager - reported that net profit in 2003 had soared to SFr6.385 billion ($5.17 billion).

The cash-rich bank said it had SFr46 billion in invested assets in its European wealth management business at the end of last year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Scott Goodman Harris is a leading independent financial adviser targeting high net-worth investors.
The firm employs 28 people and six partners.
UBS is one of the top five wealth managers in Britain, where it has 175 client advisers.

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