Exclusive: Edmond de Rothschild to close Hong Kong operations - sources

Thu Dec 8, 2016 4:16am EST
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By Saikat Chatterjee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Edmond de Rothschild (RLD.S: Quote) is closing its Hong Kong operations, according to three people familiar with the matter, more than two decades after it opened shop in the former British territory and as costs in the wealth management industry bite.

The Geneva-based bank and money manager, which had 167 billion Swiss francs ($165 billion) of assets under management at end-June 2016, has already surrendered its China operating license and will run its Japan and Korea operations through its Swiss head office.

"This is part of a return to Europe strategy due to rising cost pressures," said one of the people familiar with the matter who declined to be named.

The bank confirmed the closure of its Hong Kong operations in an emailed statement and said it will continue to selectively exploit growth opportunities in Asia through partnerships such as with SMBC Nikko Securities and Samsung Asset Management.

"It also reflects a wider strategy to offer its international clients best of class asset management and private banking expertise from the European market," the bank said.

Two of the people said the Hong Kong operation would close by the end of December with its asset management arm, which opened in Hong Kong in 2007, also shutting shop.

Private banks in Asia are feeling the heat from aggressive tax amnesty programs in Indonesia and India aimed at bringing offshore wealth home and fear regulators may impose big fines on banks who breach the rules.

Tough market conditions and the need for scale in an increasingly competitive Asian market are forcing some market players to exit the industry.   Continued...

A logo of Banque Privee Edmond de Rothschild is seen on the bank building  before a news conference for the group's 2010 results, in Geneva March 31, 2011.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse