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UPDATE 1-Julius Baer to cut about 200 jobs in cost savings drive
February 2, 2015 / 9:27 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Julius Baer to cut about 200 jobs in cost savings drive

* Baer launches cost savings programme of around 100 mln Sfr

* 2014 adjusted net profit up 22 pct to 586 mln Sfr

* Bank raises dividend to 1 Sfr per share (Adds comment from CEO and analyst, detail, shares)

By Joshua Franklin

ZURICH, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Swiss bank Julius Baer plans to cut around 100 million Swiss francs ($107 million) of costs, including about 200 jobs, it said on Monday, blaming the recent surge in the Swiss currency.

The value of the safe-haven franc rocketed last month after the Swiss National Bank unexpectedly ended its currency cap on the euro. Switzerland’s banks in particular are expected to be hard hit, because the bulk of their spending is in francs.

Private bank Julius Baer, which employs around 5,250 staff worldwide, said it aimed to cut both personnel and general costs. It will axe jobs mainly in mid- and back-office positions, the majority of them in Switzerland.

It expects to achieve most of its savings this year, it said, as it published full-year financial results.

Zurich-based Baer said adjusted net profit in 2014 rose 22 percent to 586 million francs, below expectations of 603 million francs in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Net new money -- fresh funds from wealthy clients -- rose 5 percent, within its target of 4 to 6 percent. Assets under management stood at 291 billion francs at the end of 2014.

The bank raised its dividend to 1 franc per share from 0.60 francs and affirmed its medium-term targets, which include a cost-to-income ratio of 65-70 percent.

“Despite the miss in net profit ... shareholders will welcome Julius Baer’s increased payout and management’s commitment to maintain a cost/income ratio of around 70 percent,” J. Safra Sarasin analyst Rainer Skierka, who has a “buy” rating on the stock, wrote in a note.

At 0901 GMT, Julius Baer shares were up 6.9 percent, outperforming the European banking index which was down 0.6 percent.

The bank also said it had decided to go ahead with renewing its IT global platforms and had selected Temenos to begin planning for its core banking platform replacement.

Julius Baer Chief Executive Boris Collardi said he expected the renewal would take five years.

The bank will start the process in Asia due to the importance of market, the complex regulatory environment there and to begin the renewal in a non-franc region, he told journalists. Julius Baer has not disclosed how much the renewal will cost.

Collardi also said he was confident the bank would resolve this year a U.S. probe for allegedly helping wealthy Americans to evade taxes with hidden offshore accounts.

$1 = 0.9308 Swiss francs Editing by Maria Sheahan

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