PARIS UBS France (UBSG.S) is to buy the local private banking arm of Italy's Banca Leonardo, the latest instance of consolidation in the private banking industry, which is having to contend with rising regulatory costs and a pressure on fees.
As part of the deal UBS France, a subsidiary of UBS Group (UBSG.S), will also create a joint-venture wealth management boutique with the executives of Banque Leonardo France, the firm it is buying, that will be called "La Maison de Gestion".
UBS France will hold a majority stake in the joint venture and the remainder will be held by La Maison de Gestion and some of its shareholders, including the Dassault group and Michel David-Weill, former chairman of the investment bank Lazard.
UBS France said the deal would strengthen its asset management arm, with the new joint venture company holding about 4 billion euros ($4.2 billion) of assets under management.
"With this transaction, UBS France strengthens its roots and its ambitions in France," UBS France's chairman Jean-Frederic de Leusse said in a statement. The companies did not disclose any price regarding the deal.
The transaction will also boost UBS France's assets under management to 13 billion euros from 11 billion, added de Leusse in an earlier interview with French newspaper Les Echos.
Banca Leonardo said the sale of its French subsidiary will allow the company to focus more on its core Italian private banking market.
Founded in 1999, Banca Leonardo was acquired in 2006 and recapitalized by a group of European investors led by former Lazard and Mediobanca banker Gerardo Bragiotti.
The deal between UBS France and Banca Leonardo comes during a wave of consolidation within the French wealth management industry this year, which has included Rothschild & Co (ROTH.PA) acquiring French regional private bank Martin Maurel.
(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Greg Mahlich)