DBS, OCBC Said to Submit Bids for Barclays's Asia Wealth Unit

DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. have submitted non-binding bids for Barclays Plc’s Asian private wealth business, people familiar with the matter said.

The British lender has been sounding out buyers for the Singapore-based wealth unit since last year as it seeks to refocus on its most profitable businesses in the U.S. and U.K., people with knowledge of the matter said earlier. New Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley has also imposed a hiring freeze and plans to cut jobs at the investment bank and shut securities operations in Asia to shore up earnings, people familiar have said.

The two Singapore-based bidders are vying for a bigger share of an Asian wealth-management industry that is expanding quickly as rich Chinese gain more and more access to global markets. Wealth managers with less than $20 billion under management in Asia may find it hard to sustain operations and need to consolidate, Bank of Singapore CEO Bahren Shaari said in September. Bank of Singapore is OCBC’s private banking arm.

Reuters reported earlier Friday that DBS, OCBC and Switzerland’s Julius Baer Group Ltd. have submitted non-binding bids for the U.K. lender’s unit.

Barclays’ Asia wealth business, with offices in Hong Kong, India, Japan and Singapore, had $36 billion in assets under management at the end of 2014, according to Asian Private Banker data. DBS managed that most among Asia-based financial institutions with $73.2 billion, followed by Bank of Singapore with $51 billion, the data show.

Global revenue from Barclays’ wealth management business fell 17 percent to 227 million pounds ($330 million) in the third quarter of 2015 from the year earlier, according to the bank’s website.  

Spokesmen for DBS, OCBC and Barclays declined to comment.

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