Foreign Banks in Switzerland Increase Client Assets, Group Says

Managed assets at foreign banks in Switzerland rose last year, even as the number of companies decreased, according to an industry group.

Assets under management at banks owned or headquartered outside Switzerland increased 9 percent to 960 billion Swiss francs ($1.07 trillion), the Association of Foreign Banks in Switzerland said today in a statement. The number of banks fell to 122 from 129 last year.

The largest foreign wealth managers in Switzerland are J. Safra Sarasin Holding AG, part of Brazil’s Safra Group, BSI Group, owned by Assicurazioni Generali SpA, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings Plc.

Some foreign owners are weighing whether to keep their Swiss units amid a crackdown on offshore tax evasion and as the cost of regulatory compliance crimps profits. The U.S. Department of Justice investigated at least 14 Swiss banks and received 106 applications for a voluntary disclosure program from firms that believe they may have undeclared American clients.

Switzerland has agreed to respect a global standard on automatic exchange of information between tax authorities designed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Safra Sarasin, which had 131 billion francs under management at the end of 2013, is consolidating its presence in the country by acquiring the Swiss private bank of Morgan Stanley. Italy’s Generali has entered exclusive talks with Grupo BTG Pactual over the sale of BSI, which is based in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino.

Client assets at JPMorgan in Switzerland climbed to 86 billion francs from 77 billion francs, the figures showed. The association said it obtained the data directly from the companies.

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