GERMANY/SWITZERLAND - Swiss bank UBS is set to buy German Commerzbank's French asset management arm Caisse Centrale de Réescompte (CCR) for €435m.

Commerzbank announced in May it was considering selling its French operations to focus on "core competences" in Germany. (see earlier IPE story: Commerzbank to sell French AM arm).

"The business of the CCR Group will be integrated into the asset management and
wealth management businesses of UBS in France," UBS stated.

"CCR would benefit from being part of a large banking group, for which onshore asset management in Europe represents a key strategic market," ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) commented.

Today it placed its 'A' long-term and 'A-1' short-term counterparty credit ratings on the CCR on CreditWatch with positive implications.

S&P announced to review the rating after regulatory approval for the takeover was obtained and noted retaining key staff members "will remain an important ratings factor".

CCR has €17bn in assets under management, over 60% of which is from institutional investors.

The CCR group, with around 190 employees, has four principal entities:

CCR, a provider of banking services to its subsidiaries; CCR Actions, an asset manager specializing in equity funds; CCR Gestion, an asset manager specializing in fixed income and alternative products, and CCR Chevrillon-Philippe, a provider of asset management services to private clients.

Gabriel Herrera, head of Europe, Middle East & Africa, Global Asset Management at UBS, said the transaction will help the bank "achieve our high growth ambitions in France". 

Commerzbank sold its UK-based asset management operation Jupiter in a management buyout earlier this year.

Should the CCR sale be approved by regulators, Commerzbank will no longer have any European asset management subsidiaries outside of Germany.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2008.

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