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Friday, 19 December 2014

DBS Said to Consider SocGen Tie-Up for Coutts International Bid

DBS Group Holdings Ltd. (DBS) is in talks to team up with Societe Generale SA in its bid for Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s international private-banking operations, people with knowledge of the matter said.

DBS was among banks that submitted first-round offers for Coutts International this month, the people said, asking not to be named as the details are private. A potential bid with Societe Generale, if successful, would see the Singapore lender take over Coutts International’s Asian operations while the French bank would assume the rest of the business, one person said.

Southeast Asia’s biggest lender has been pursuing acquisitions to expand in private banking as the ranks of wealthy in the region increase. DBS completed the $220 million purchase of Societe Generale SA (GLE)’s Asian wealth-management business in October, boosting its assets under management to S$88 billion ($67 billion).

Coutts International could fetch $600 million to $900 million, a person with knowledge of the matter said this month. DBS spokeswoman Edna Koh and Jolyon Barthorpe, a spokesman for Societe Generale in Paris, declined to comment.

RBS said in a memo in August that it was examining options including a sale of Coutts’s overseas business, as it shifts its focus to wealthy clients in the U.K. Chief Executive Ross McEwan is eliminating thousands of jobs and cutting about 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in costs as he seeks to reverse six straight annual losses.

Coutts International had 32.6 billion Swiss francs ($33.2 billion) of assets under management at the end of 2013. RBS isn’t selling the U.K. arm of Coutts, which counts Queen Elizabeth II among its customers. The private bank has roots in 1692, before the Bank of England was founded.

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