LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Crossbridge Capital, a London wealth manager set up by former Credit Suisse CSGN.VX bankers, has joined the chase for Asia’s tycoons and set up a Singapore unit seeking $1 billion of new assets, its chief executive said.
Chief Executive Tarek Khlat told Reuters on Tuesday that Crossbridge hoped to reach the target, a 50 percent increase in assets under management, within three years through the new business division, which opens on Wednesday.
The plans mark a significant strategic move for the company, part owned by Swiss bank Julius Baer BAER.VX, beyond its established Middle Eastern, London-focused client base.
Crossbridge currently manages about $2 billion in assets from its London base, with an average account size of $20 million, Khlat said.
“We’re looking at taking on 50 new client relationships to get us to the billion dollar mark in three years. In view of the wealth that’s being created (in Asia) and in terms of the contacts we have in place, it’s very much an achievable target”, he said.
With breakneck economic expansion and a rapidly growing population of wealthy tycoons, Asia has become central to the aspirations of many wealth management businesses, facing limited prospects in their home markets.[ID:nSIN481800]
China now boasts the world’s third-largest population of millionaires, with around 450,000 at the end of 2009, data from the Boston Consulting Group showed.
Last year, the wealth of individuals with over $1 million to invest increased by 30.9 percent in Asia-Pacific to $9.7 trillion, erasing the losses of 2008, according to the Capgemini-Merrill Lynch Asia-Pacific Wealth report.
Singapore is also emerging as a wealth management hub, putting pressure on more established jurisdictions such as Switzerland.
Khlat founded Crossbridge in September 2008 with five colleagues from Credit Suisse who had worked with him on the bank’s Middle East desk in London.
Julius Baer was a founding investor with a 10 percent stake, while 85 percent of the company is owned by management and staff.
The remaining 5 percent is held by a number of Crossbridge clients, Khlat said. (Reporting by Chris Vellacott; Editing by Sinead Cruise and Will Waterman) (For the Funds Hub blog: blogs.reuters.com/hedgehub) (For Global Investing: here)