Qatari Royals Said to Mull Sale of Luxembourg Private Bank BIL

  • Precision Capital is weighing a sale of bank it bought in 2012
  • Banque Internationale a Luxembourg could be worth $1.5 billion

The Qatari owners of Banque Internationale a Luxembourg SA are considering a sale of their controlling stake in the private bank, which could fetch about $1.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Precision Capital, the investment vehicle of Qatar royal family members including former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, is weighing a sale of the bank, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. BIL could interest large private banks in Europe seeking to expand their business, the people said.

Precision is not running a formal sale process and is holding preliminary discussions with potential buyers, the people said. No final agreements have been reached and the owners may decide against a sale, the people said.

Representatives for Precision Capital, BIL and the Luxembourg Finance Ministry declined to comment.

The royals bought into the European private banking scene in 2012, acquiring a 90 percent stake in BIL from Dexia SA as part of a bailout of the Franco-Belgian bank. The Luxembourg government bought the remaining 10 percent. Precision Capital also bought another private bank in the country that year, KBL European Private Bankers SA for 1.05 billion euros ($1.14 billion).

BIL, founded in 1856, is the oldest private bank in Luxembourg. The bank had 35.5 billion euros of assets under management at the end of 2015, according to its website. Its net income for the first half of 2016 dropped to 45 million euros from 108 million euros for the same period in the previous year in a “challenging market environment,” according to the bank’s latest financial report.

Qatar has been an active investor in European banks, with the country’s sovereign wealth fund holding stakes in lenders including Barclays Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG.

— With assistance by Mohammed Sergie

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