Exclusive: Credit Suisse, Julius Baer eye bids for BTG Pactual's Swiss unit - sources

Wed Dec 9, 2015 1:01pm EST
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By Pamela Barbaglia and Guillermo Parra-Bernal

LONDON/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Credit Suisse CSGN.VX and Julius Baer BAER.VX are among a handful of banks vying to buy the Swiss private-banking arm of embattled Brazilian investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA (BBTG11.SA: Quote) in a cut-price deal, sources with direct knowledge of the talks told Reuters on Wednesday. Zurich-based Credit Suisse is exploring an offer that would value BSI at less than 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.01 billion), one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

This would be a 20 percent plus discount from what BTG paid for Lugano-based BSI in a deal completed in September.

BSI has been put on the block after its billionaire founder André Esteves was arrested in connection with a corruption probe in Brazil. BTG Pactual is selling assets as fast as it can and has tapped funding from a credit guarantee fund as investors, fearful it will be dragged further into the scandal, run scared.

BTG, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and BSI declined to comment.

Two sources said Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI: Quote) as well as two unidentified Chinese organizations were also interested in BSI. Switzerland's J. Safra Sarasin could be another interested buyer, they said.

A spokesman at Intesa said the Italian bank was not conducting due diligence on BSI. Sarasin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China's Fosun International is keen to invest in European private banking businesses, a source close to the Chinese investment firm said, while declining to comment on BSI.

Industry bankers said Fosun is monitoring the sale of BSI but it remains unclear whether the Chinese investment firm, which owns Portugal's largest insurance company, Fidelidade, and has vied for Portuguese bank Novo Banco, is looking to place an offer.   Continued...

A Credit Suisse sign is seen on the exterior of their Americas headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar