ABN Amro purchase boosts UBP assets

ZURICH Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:14pm GMT

ZURICH Jan 25 (Reuters) - Assets at Swiss private bank Union Bancaire Privee rose for the first time in four years, thanks to a boost from acquiring ABN Amro's private bank.

This helped outweigh outflows at UBP, as clients pulled out assets for a fourth successive year.

Assets climbed to 72 billion Swiss francs ($77.4 billion) in 2011 from 65 billion a year earlier after the ABN buy swelled coffers by 7 billion francs.

The bank's assets have fallen from a peak of 135 billion francs in 2007 as the financial crisis hit valuations, and clients pulled out their cash after the bank lost money to a $64.8 billion Ponzi fraud operated by Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities.

Madoff himself is serving a 150-year jail sentence.

UBP is aiming to grow assets by stemming outflows and buying smaller banks and asset managers, and has set its sights on French fund of hedge funds manager Nexar.

Excluding costs for intergrating ABN Amro Bank (Switzerland) AG, UBP profits for the year fell 8 percent to 198 million in what remains an extra-tough market for Switzerland's private banks, whose profits have been crimped by a strong franc, low interest rates and flaccid client activity.

Low interest rates depress the amount of money banks can earn on client deposits, while the strong franc has hit the value of fees paid by the many clients who pay these in other currencies.

($1 = 0.9299 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by David Hulmes)

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