Standard Chartered to Sell Geneva-Based Private Bank Unit

Standard Chartered Plc (STAN), the U.K. lender that makes about three-quarters of its earnings in Asia, plans to sell its Geneva-based private bank as Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands reviews businesses to improve profitability.

Wealthy clients that used the Swiss operation can bank through its London, Jersey, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong offices, Standard Chartered said in a statement today.

“This decision will not affect Standard Chartered wholesale-bank business in Switzerland, where we have long standing relationships with corporate and institutional clients,” the London-based bank said.

Sands said in November that the bank would cut businesses where it doesn’t have sufficient scale and had quit consumer banking in Japan and in Lebanon. HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Europe’s biggest bank by market value, also plans to sell parts of its Swiss private bank as some foreign lenders retreat amid a crackdown on bank secrecy and rising regulatory scrutiny, people familiar with the matter said last month.

The Wall Street Journal reported Standard Chartered’s decision earlier today.

Weakening bank secrecy and rising regulation may bring a wave of acquisitions in the next 12 to 18 months, bankers, consultants and analysts told Bloomberg News in July. The number of foreign-owned Swiss banks fell to 129 by the end of May 2013 from 145 at the start of 2012, according to the Association of Foreign Banks in Switzerland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Howard Mustoe in London at hmustoe@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Campbell at k.campbell@bloomberg.net

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