Societe Generale to revive sale of UK private bank unit


Societe Generale SA is reviving a potential sale of its private UK bank Kleinwort Hambros, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would allow the French lender to free up capital. The French bank is working with advisers to explore interest in the unit, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters. There’s no certainty the efforts will lead to a transaction, they said.
SocGen is also evaluating the possible disposal of its Swiss private banking unit, according to the people, as new Chief Executive Officer Slawomir Krupa looks to boost the bank’s
valuation by offloading non-core assets.
A spokesperson for SocGen declined to comment. Hambros, which has offered private banking to London’s wealthy for almost two centuries, was acquired by SocGen in 1998. It’s grown through subsequent deals including tie-ups with Kleinwort Benson and Barings Asset Management’s private client unit, and now manages about £12 billion ($15.1 billion). SocGen tried to sell the business in 2019 but couldn’t find a suitable buyer. Some interested parties were turned off by a lack of scale and ongoing restructuring costs at the time, people familiar with the matter said.
In Switzerland, SocGen caters to local clients and those in Luxembourg and Monaco, with services ranging from jet and yacht financing to wealth planning. The country’s vast private banking sector has been consolidating gradually over the past decade, a process that’s been accelerated by the shock rescue of Credit Suisse by UBS in March. That deal sent private bankers fleeing to rivals such as Lombard Odier and Julius Baer Group Ltd.

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