Friday, January 4, 2013

What Does the Closure of Switzerland's Oldest Bank Means for Swiss Private Banking?

First they came for Sarasin and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a....Oh wait. That was a friendly buyout by Safra to block Baer. Never mind.
And apologies to the literary estate of Pastor Niemöller.

From the Wall Street Journal Europe's The Source blog:
Wegelin Case Highlights Private Banking Changes
Wegelin & Co’s Friday announcement that it will close after admitting that it helped Americans avoid taxes by hiding assets in overseas accounts marks the latest blow to an industry reeling from a string of regulatory changes.

In the case of Wegelin, U.S. authorities said the bank helped clients hide $1.2 billion in assets. The firm pleaded guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge.

Philip Marcovici, a member of the board of wealth manager Kaiser Partner, said recent charges brought against private banks and wealth managers for helping foreigners hide assets abroad highlight fundamental industry changes that firms should have anticipated.

Ray Soudah, founder of independent M&A advisory firm Millennium Associates, said Wegelin’s closure illustrated a trend that will force mergers on Swiss private banks cutting their exposure to undeclared client assets in Europe and the U.S., where tax has not been paid.

Mr. Soudah said: “This will lead to a significant reduction in their revenue and force a reassessment of the high cost of front offices, which is totally unjustified.”...MORE
I think that leaves Banque J.P. Hottinguer & Cie's successor-Banque Hottinger & Cie as the oldest or at least the oldest family-owned bank in Switzerland.
Here's the Henokeins Association of most of the world's oldest family businesses, it looks like Hottinguer nudges out Lombard Odier by a decade and Pictet by 19 years.

So now we figure out who sells and who buys.

Switzerland's Oldest Bank to Close Permanently