ZURICH (Reuters) - Julius Baer BAER.VX has not held talks with larger rival Credit Suisse CSGN.VX about merging, the Swiss private bank’s chief executive said in comments made in the weekly Schweiz am Sonntag.
“There have been no such talks,” Boris Collardi, head of Zurich-based Julius Baer, was quoted as saying when asked whether the two banks had discussed a tie-up.
Talk in Swiss banking circles has long linked Credit Suisse to Julius Baer, which with 291 billion Swiss francs ($297.18 billion) in assets is the fourth-largest private bank in Switzerland behind UBS UBSN.VX, Credit Suisse and Geneva-based Pictet & Cie.
The chatter has fueled Baer’s shares to their highest level since the purchase of three private banks and asset manager GAM from UBS UBSN.VX in 2005.
A spokeswoman for Credit Suisse would not comment on Collardi’s remarks or a potential deal.
His comments come as the Swiss private banking industry is rapidly being reshaped by dealmaking aimed at branching out from a struggling home market and surviving regulatory changes.
Three weeks ago, Geneva-based Union Bancaire Privee said it would buy the international business of 300-year-old British wealth manager Coutts.
Collardi said that while he believed his bank to be an attractive target, he did not see what the value of a deal would be for Baer’s clients and employees.
Julius Baer is still involved in a criminal investigation into its role in helping wealthy Americans evade taxes, a probe that Credit Suisse set aside nearly one year ago by paying $2.5 billion and pleading guilty to a U.S. criminal charge.
Reporting by Katharina Bart; editing by Jason Neely