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Coutts acquisition priced 'far lower' than US$1b: UBP executive

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THE acquisition of Coutts International by Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) was priced "far lower" than US$1 billion, UBP's top executive said on Monday.

THE acquisition of Coutts International by Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) was priced "far lower" than US$1 billion, UBP's top executive said on Monday.

"One billion was an assessment if it was a share deal," Michel Longhini, executive managing director at the Swiss private bank, told The Business Times in Singapore.

"It's an asset deal," he said, adding that the final price would depend on the client base. Earlier reports said that the deal would be priced against the book value of Coutts International of over US$1 billion.

There is chance of some headcount cuts in Switzerland, given certain overlapping functions. But these will be kept minimal in Asia, given UBP's small presence in the region.

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"There's no risk of overlap (here)," said Mr Longhini.

Mr Longhini said keeping Coutts International intact was a "very important target for RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)". The UK bank also wanted a swift process, and integration would be made easier with a single buyer, he added. There were earlier reports that Coutts International should be broken up, as the Asian business could have yielded more.

Most of the integration will take place this year, with some plans hinging upon UBP's application for a Hong Kong banking licence, he said.

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