Basler Kantonalbank Says Profit Halved on U.S. Tax Provision

Basler Kantonalbank, a Swiss regional state-controlled lender, said profit more than halved after a 109 million-franc ($122 million) provision in relation to a U.S. probe into tax evasion by Americans.

Net income for the group, which also includes Bank Coop AG, fell to 96.5 million francs in 2013 from 228.7 million francs a year earlier, the company, based in Basel, Switzerland, said in an e-mailed statement today.

Basler Kantonalbank is among about a dozen Swiss wealth managers, including Credit Suisse Group AG and Julius Baer Group Ltd., under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for helping Americans evade taxes through secret accounts. Chairman Andreas Sturm, who described the U.S. probe as “the most difficult topic” for the bank, said the provision reflects the current assessment for the possible fine and legal costs.

“We have done everything we can to quickly reach an amicable solution,” Sturm said in a text of his speech prepared for the bank’s press conference. “When this will happen I cannot, however, say. The sooner the better.”

Basler Kantonalbank rose 3 percent to 77.80 francs at 12:15 p.m. in Swiss trading, the biggest intraday gain since Jan. 28. The shares have declined 21 percent in the past 12 months, while the Swiss Performance Index climbed 15 percent.

Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, said last week it set aside 175 million francs to cover potential costs related to a Securities and Exchange Commission part of the tax probe. The bank already put aside 295 million francs in 2011 for U.S. tax matters.

Zuercher Kantonalbank, the biggest state-owned regional bank in Switzerland, said last week it hopes to resolve the U.S. probe this year. The bank didn’t disclose any provisions for the U.S. investigation.

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