June 17, 2015 / 3:57 PM / in 4 years

Fosun, others in talks to buy German private bank Hauck

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Several strategic investors are in talks to buy a stake in German private bank Hauck & Aufhaeuser, the bank said on Wednesday.

Chinese holding group Fosun International (0656.HK) is one of the parties involved in the takeover discussions, one source close to the discussions said separately.

“There are several interested parties who want to buy a stake in Hauck & Aufhaeuser,” a spokeswoman for the bank said, declining to offer further details. A spokesman for Fosun was not immediately available for comment.

One person close to the discussions said that talks between the bank and Fosun International had reached an advanced stage and that buyers were interested in taking well over a 50 percent stake.

“China is interested here in this market because they are looking for channels to drive their investments,” the person said.

Hauck & Aufhaeuser has around 70 owners. It managed some 27 billion euros ($30.36 billion) in 2013. Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund once held a large stake in the bank but sold out in 2013.

Small German wealth managers like Berenberg Bank, MM Warburg and Metzler have faced competitive pressure from the country’s large savings- and cooperative bank sectors which have made large inroads into the business with wealthy clientele.

Switzerland’s large wealth managers like UBS AG UBSG.VX and Credit Suisse CSGN.VX have reduced their presence in Germany since the financial crisis.

Fosun already owns a nearly 20 percent stake in BHF Kleinwort Benson BHFKB.BR, parent company to German merchant bank BHF.

BHF-Bank saw the sudden departure of its Chief Executive Bjoern Robens on Tuesday, and it named Alexander Mettenheimer as interim CEO.

Robens’ early exit resulted over differences in strategy and leadership of the merchant bank, and it triggered a sharp rebuke from Fosun, which said it “vigorously” opposed the change at the bank’s helm as it damaged shareholder interests and the long-term value of the lender.

In a 2014 interview with Reuters, Hauck & Aufhaeuser partner Stephan Rupprecht said the bank’s profits had been fully retained in recent years to lift its capital ratios further above regulatory minimums and that the bank did not require an additional equity injection.

Reporting by Thomas Atkins; editing by Susan Thomas

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