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350 jobs to go as Julius Baer buys banks

SWITZERLAND – Around 350 jobs, including possibly that of asset management chief Roman von Ah, look set to go with Julius Baer’s decision to buy four wealth management firms from UBS.

Julius Baer said today that it had agreed to buy Ehinger & Armand von Ernst, Ferrier Lullin & Cie and Banco di Lugano as well as GAM Holding from its larger rival in a deal worth around CHF5.6bn (€3.6bn).

The move would see it add around CHF119bn of assets under management, taking its total to CHF270bn.

It said around 10% of the combined firms’ staff would go. Based on the 1,700 new staff and Baer’s 1,813 staff as at the end of June, that could work out as more than 350 axed jobs.

Among those to go could be Julius Baer’s asset management chief von Ah. That role is now being taken by UBS GAM’s David Solo.

Von Ah, the former chief investment officer at Swiss pension group Swissca, has been head of asset management at the Zurich-based bank since the start of 2004.

Solo has been CEO of GAM since 2004 and from the start of next year will be head of asset management at Julius Baer. A Baer spokesman was not immediately available.

“With this acquisition Julius Baer will become Switzerland's largest wealth manager focused purely on private banking and asset management,” it said in a statement.

It aimed to generate “significant” revenue benefits and cost savings in excess of CHF150m pre-tax profit per annum by 2008.

Johannes de Gier becomes chief executive and president while Alex Widmer is head of private banking. Rolf Aeberli continues as chief financial officer. Raymond Baer will continue as chairman.

It said assets under management of the combined Julius Baer Group are expected to increase by roughly 80% - with revenues doubling and net profit almost tripling.

It said savings would be made by the integration of the banks’ different back-office operations and staff “streamlining”. Redundancies would ultimately reach approximately 10% of the combined workforce.

It said: “This reduction over the next two years will partially be realized through early retirement agreements and natural attrition. As a result Julius Baer is expected to achieve annual cost savings of more than CHF 100 million by 2008.”

GAM’s products consist of “high-alpha" absolute-return-oriented products which will complement the more traditional long-only products under the Julius Baer brand.

Baer said the Julius Baer Asset Management operation would be “grown and focused on the European intermediary and institutional market”.

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