Bloomberg News

Sarasin to Add German Branches Amid Tax-Evasion Crackdown

October 27, 2011

(Updates with executive comment in third paragraph.)

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Bank Sarasin & Cie. AG, the 170- year-old Swiss wealth manager controlled by Rabobank Groep NV, plans to open two branches to build its wealth management business in Germany.

Andreas Brandt joins the bank next month from Credit Suisse Group AG to oversee the Hamburg office that opens in January, Basel, Switzerland-based Sarasin said today in statement. Hannover will be the firm’s sixth German branch, the bank said.

Sarasin is tapping “an important economic region,” said Frank Niehage, chief executive officer of the bank’s German unit, and will target both wealthy entrepreneurs and institutional investors. Swiss private banks, including Julius Baer Group Ltd. and Vontobel Holding AG, are developing networks in Germany as a crackdown on tax evasion pushes European clients to repatriate assets from the Alpine country.

“Swiss banks have to diversify as they are limited in their home market,” Niehage said in a phone interview. “Germany has a huge potential.”

First-half inflows of 3.9 billion francs ($4.5 billion) at Sarasin included a “modest increase” in net new money in Germany as it hired more relationship managers, the bank said in July.

“Sarasin has a good reputation in the German market and the progress in terms of inflows has been pretty strong, according to management,” said Christian Stark, a Zurich-based analyst at Credit Agricole Cheuvreux SA. “It’s definitely a sensible strategy.”

Client Assets

While more than 37 percent of Sarasin’s 101.6 billion francs of client assets is in Europe outside Switzerland, the bank won’t give a precise figure for Germany. The firm has a “single-digit amount of billions of assets under management” in Germany, which is a profitable market, Niehage said.

Switzerland signed accords with Germany and the U.K. in September that will introduce new levies on Germans and Britons with Swiss offshore bank accounts. Government officials in Switzerland are also trying to conclude a comprehensive settlement with the U.S. over the treatment of Swiss bank accounts belonging to Americans.

“We don’t have any problems or scandals with U.S. clients,” said Niehage.

Only “a purely white-money model” that relies on declared assets will work, Sarasin’s Chief Investment Officer Burkhard Varnholt said on Sept. 8.

Several interested parties are in talks about buying Rabobank’s stake in Sarasin, the bank said on Oct. 13.

--Editors: Dylan Griffiths, Stephen Taylor.

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Broom in Geneva at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at

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