January 13, 2015 / 9:34 AM / 3 years ago

StanChart to close Swiss private bank after sale founders

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ZURICH, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered confirmed it is closing its Swiss private bank after failing to attract a buyer for the small Geneva-based wealth manager.

The bank said last February that it was looking to sell its Swiss private bank as part of a plan to shed non-core businesses as it sharpens its focus on Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The closure means efforts to find a suitable buyer have been unsuccessful and a spokeswoman for Standard Chartered said it began the process of winding down the business a few months ago.

"We have moved the majority of accounts to our other booking centres, e.g. Jersey, London and Dubai," the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Standard Chartered did not disclose the amount of assets under management at the Swiss wealth manager. A 2013 report by the Association of Foreign Banks in Switzerland said the bank had 2.1 billion Swiss francs ($2.07 billion) in client funds.

News of the closure was originally reported on Monday by Swiss business newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft.

It is part of broader changes at Standard Chartered which last week announced plans to close the bulk of its equities business and axe 4,000 jobs in retail banking as part of a turnaround plan.

Standard Chartered did not disclose the exact number of employees affected by the closure, though the spokeswoman said this number was less than 50.

Its Swiss unit had 70 members of staff, according to its website.

The majority of employees have either found new roles within the bank or have left, the spokeswoman said. The Swiss unit will continue to service institutional and corporate clients.

Royal Bank of Canada is also looking to sell its Swiss banking operations and has hired JP Morgan to help with the sale, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing a person familiar with the process.

A spokesman for RBC said the bank had no comment beyond what it has said previously on the subject, which is that the bank has begun a strategic review of RBC Suisse. ($1 = 1.0145 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Oliver Hirt; editing by Keith Weir)

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