SWITZERLAND – Swiss private banking group Julius Baer has closed its offices in Amsterdam and Paris following its decision last year to withdraw from institutional brokerage.

An official in Julius Baer’s head office confirmed that the two offices had now closed following the brokerage withdrawal. He declined to provide any further information.

Julius Baer said in July 2003 that it wanted to refocus on asset management and withdraw from pan-European institutional brokerage.

The move saw the brokerage arm taken over by Lightyear Capital, a US private equity firm headed by former Paine Webber chairman and chief executive Donald Marron.

The sale, finalised in October, incurred a one-off restructuring charge of around 55 million Swiss francs (35 million euros).

"In the future we want to refocus on our traditional business of asset management", said the bank’s chairman Raymond Baer at the time.

Lightyear can use the Julius Baer Brokerage name until February 2004 at the latest. Julius Baer Brokerage, which lost around 20 million francs in the first half of last year, focused on service and research to institutional investors on European equities.

Julius Baer’s total assets under management rose to 115.4 billion francs in the third quarter.