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Julius Baer Surges on Report of Takeover by Credit Suisse

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Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Julius Baer Group Ltd., Switzerland’s third-largest wealth manager, jumped to the highest in almost four months following a report it may be acquired by Credit Suisse Group AG.

The shares rose 2.3 percent to 41.74 Swiss francs at 11:49 a.m. in Zurich after earlier increasing as much as 3 percent to 42 francs, the highest since May 14, giving the bank a market value of 9.3 billion francs ($10 billion). Inside Paradeplatz, a Swiss finance blog, said today Credit Suisse might be considering a takeover of Julius Baer, without citing anyone. Spokesmen for Julius Baer and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

“It would be a good fit for Credit Suisse,” Jonas Floriani, a London-based analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. He has a market perform rating on Julius Baer shares. “They would be acquiring some assets that are doing well, expanding in Asia and consolidating in Germany and Switzerland.”

Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, has been under pressure to focus more on managing money for the wealthy and reduce its exposure to investment banking. Acquiring Julius Baer, which had 274.2 billion francs in assets under management at the end of June, would boost Credit Suisse’s wealth management assets to 1.1 trillion francs. Credit Suisse is the fourth-biggest wealth manager by assets, according to the annual ranking by Scorpio Partnership, which ranks Julius Baer 12th.

Credit Suisse, based in Zurich, earlier this year paid a fine of $2.6 billion to settle an investigation of helping its clients dodge U.S. taxes. Julius Baer, also based in Zurich, has said it expects to pay a penalty to settle its tax dispute and can’t reliably assess the size of the fine.

Julius Baer Chairman Daniel Sauter said earlier this week the bank is looking for acquisition opportunities. The bank last month agreed to buy the European operations of Bank Leumi Le-Israel BM after acquiring the non-U.S. Merrill Lynch assets from Bank of America Corp. in 2012.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at jvogeli@bloomberg.net; Elena Logutenkova in Zurich at elogutenkova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elisa Martinuzzi at emartinuzzi@bloomberg.net Simone Meier, Steve Bailey