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Credit Suisse Sells Italy Business Catering to Affluent

Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) sold its wealth management business in Italy catering to the affluent to Banca Generali SpA (BGN), as it focuses on richer clients.

Banca Generali, based in Trieste, agreed to pay as much as 50 million euros ($68.2 million) for the business, which has more than 2 billion euros in assets under management, the companies said in a statement today.

The affluent segment at Credit Suisse consists of clients with less than 1 million Swiss francs ($1.12 million) at the bank. Credit Suisse wants more than 50 percent of assets at its private-banking and wealth-management division to come from ultra-high-net-worth individuals, Chief Investment Officer Michael Strobaek said in March. These clients, who typically have at least 50 million francs to invest, contributed 45 percent of assets under management at the end of 2013.

This sale “will allow us to actively pursue our project of focusing on high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients,” Giorgio Riccucci, Credit Suisse’s head of private banking, market area Italy, said in the statement. “In the ultra-high-net-worth segment alone, we recorded inflows of assets under management of over 1 billion euros in the first six months of 2014.”

Banca Generali fell 2.2 percent to 20.30 euros by 4:42 p.m. in Milan trading, bringing the decline this year to 11 percent. Credit Suisse slipped 2.1 percent to 25.13 francs.

Ending Relationships

The acquisition will primarily be financed by debt, Banca Generali and Zurich-based Credit Suisse said in the statement. Italy’s biggest insurer, Assicurazioni Generali SpA (G), is the majority shareholder in Banca Generali.

The deal complements the acquisition in 2013 of Morgan Stanley (MS)’s wealth-management operations in the U.K., Italy and Dubai, Riccucci said. Credit Suisse at the time acquired $13 billion of assets, the bulk of which was in the U.K.

Credit Suisse announced a repositioning of its onshore businesses in markets including Germany and the U.S. in October. The bank at the time also said it’s ending relationships with offshore private-banking clients from 83 countries with cumulative assets under management of about 3 billion francs to improve efficiency.

The Swiss bank sold its German private-banking business to ABN Amro Group NV’s Bethmann Bank in December. That business had about 10 billion euros in assets under management and approximately 200 employees in nine locations in Germany.

The Swiss bank said at the time it would focus on servicing super-rich German clients and book the business in Switzerland and Luxembourg. By contrast, Credit Suisse will continue booking its Italian business locally, Charlotte Nelson, a spokeswoman for the bank, said by phone today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at jvogeli@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net Jon Menon

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