June 25, 2019 / 7:16 AM / 3 months ago

Bellevue Group could sell loss-making bank as revamp stalls

ZURICH (Reuters) - Bellevue Group is weighing the sale of its Bank am Bellevue wealth management unit and has held talks with potential buyers, it said on Tuesday, adding that efforts to reposition activities lag internal expectations.

“Against this background, Bellevue Group is reviewing various strategic options for Bank am Bellevue,” the financial company said in a statement.

“In this context, it also has discussions with potential interested parties about a sale of the bank. To date, no contract has been concluded.”

In recent years, there has been a consolidation within Switzerland’s fragmented wealth management landscape, as the steady erosion of the nation’s famous banking secrecy made it less attractive for foreigners to stash cash in Switzerland, conspiring to shrink the customer base and hurt profits.

In 2018, private banks Heritage and Sallfort merged, while Geneva’s GS Banque and Lugano’s Banca Arner followed suit this March.

Bellevue Group, whose other businesses include its flagship asset manager BB Biotech, struggled with stagnating revenue and losses at its bank as severe market turmoil late last year halted new money momentum and growth of assets under management.

Bank am Bellevue had client assets of about 1.8 billion Swiss francs ($1.85 billion) at the end of last year, while the asset management side of the business had assets of nearly 9 billion francs under management. The bank posted an 8.2 million franc operating loss in 2018.

Restructuring has been ongoing for years, with the unit discontinuing its brokerage and corporate finance activities in 2017 when it cut 23 positions.

($1 = 0.9711 Swiss francs)

Reporting by John Miller and Oliver Hirt in Zurich; Editing by Keith Weir

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