DBS, OCBC, Julius Baer submit bids for Barclays Asia wealth unit: Sources

Barclays managed US$36 billion in private banking assets in Asia as of last year.
Barclays managed US$36 billion in private banking assets in Asia as of last year.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Singapore's DBS Group Holdings and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp as well as Swiss bank Julius Baer have submitted non-binding bids for Barclays' Asian private wealth business, people familiar with the matter said.

First-round bids for the Singapore-based unit, which bankers value at around US$600 million (S$837.5 million), were submitted last week, said the people, who declined to be identified because the deal talks are confidential.

The sale is part of a restructuring drive under Barclays new chief executive Jes Staley and comes as several European banks rethink their Asian strategy due to pressure at home to cut costs.

DBS, OCBC and Julius Baer declined to comment. Barclays also declined to comment.

Sources familiar with the sales process had told Reuters earlier that Credit Suisse was also weighing a bid for Barclays' wealth unit, but it wasn't immediately clear if the Swiss bank had submitted an offer. Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Barclays managed US$36 billion in private banking assets in Asia as of last year, according to a survey by industry publication Private Banker International that ranked it 14th by managed assets in Asia. DBS was ranked eighth.

Asia has attracted a raft of European private banking players, notably in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008. But in addition to pressure to reduce costs, some mid-sized banks are getting cold feet due to slowing growth in the region and fierce competition from some Asian players.