SWITZERLAND – The Julius Baer group, reporting a 16% rise in asset under management, is to undergo a revamp that will see its founding family give up control.

The group said its assets under management in 2004 had risen 16% to CHF135bn (€87.4bn). A spokesman said that in the first half of 2004 the group had AUM of CHF130bn, CHF66bn of which from the institutional business.

The news came as the group said the Baer family would cut down its ties with the bank that bears its name. Family member and executive board member Michael Baer is to step down from his role as head of private banking due to “differing views” about strategy.

He will leave the group as of mid-2005.

Julius Baer said it would change its voting policy with the introduction of a "one share, one vote" structure, which will reduce the voting rights of the Baer family by two thirds.

If the changes go through, family and staff’s voting rights would be sliced down to 18%, on a par with their economic rights.

A spokesman said he was confident the “one vote, one share” structure would be accepted and added that big investors had reacted positively to the change.

“As a fully public company, Julius Baer will strengthen its corporate governance and create a strong foundation for future growth,” the group said in a statement.

Chairman Raymond Baer called the move a “milestone”.

“Julius Baer will be the first Swiss private bank to open its ownership and control fully to the public. This provides the Group with new perspectives for future growth," he said.

Walter Knabenhans, chief executive of the Julius Baer Group, will take charge of private banking on an interim basis.