Three banks 'make bids for Barclays wealth unit'

SINGAPORE • DBS Group Holdings and OCBC Bank 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, sources said. 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 told Reuters earlier that Credit Suisse was also weighing a bid for Barclays' wealth unit, but it was not 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, the most among Asia-based financial institutions with US$73.2 billion, followed by Bank of Singapore with US$51 billion, the data show.

Global revenue from Barclays' wealth management business fell 17 per cent to £227 million (S$460 million) in the third quarter of last year from the year earlier, according to the bank's website.  

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.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Three banks 'make bids for Barclays wealth unit''. Print Edition | Subscribe