Julius Baer in talks with Santander over Venezuela business: sources


ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss private bank Julius Baer (S:BAER) is in talks about transferring its Venezuelan book of business to Spain’s Banco Santander (MC:SAN) as Baer reorganizes operations in Latin America, sources close to the situation have told Reuters.

Baer said in October it was closing its branches in Peru and Panama as part of its effort to focus on larger markets in the region such as Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

A source familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified, said on Saturday that talks with Santander over Baer’s Venezuelan book of business were under way but had not yet been concluded.

Last month, another source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Santander was talking to Julius Baer about taking over some of the Swiss bank’s clients in Venezuela.

A third source said a potential deal would not involve the transfer of any portfolio or assets, but rather come as referral agreement where the Spanish bank could access Baer’s clients.

A spokesman for the Spanish bank declined to comment.

Switzerland’s Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper reported on Saturday that Baer had ended ties in April with hundreds of clients in Venezuela with less than $1.5 million each in assets, and that the remaining clients there had more than $20 million each in assets.

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