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Julius Baer to cut costs by US$108 million after Swiss Franc surge

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Julius Baer Group Ltd said it plans to cut costs by 100 million Swiss francs (US$108 million) as a surge in Switzerland's currency may crimp profit at the nation's third- largest wealth manager.

[GENEVA] Julius Baer Group Ltd said it plans to cut costs by 100 million Swiss francs (US$108 million) as a surge in Switzerland's currency may crimp profit at the nation's third- largest wealth manager.

Julius Baer will cut 200 jobs, control hiring and reallocate resources, the Zurich-based bank said Monday in an e- mailed statement.

"Julius Baer will be able to confront the effects of the recent Swiss franc appreciation," Chief Executive Officer Boris Collardi, 40, said in the statement. "I am convinced that thanks to these and further measures the group will succeed in protecting its profitability." Swiss bankers are revisiting budgets as the strong franc increases the cost of doing business with international customers. The franc's surge is a "wake-up call" that will force banks to accelerate cost cuts, Patrick Odier, president of the Swiss Bankers Association, said on Jan 24 in an interview.

Julius Baer has plunged about 18 per cent since the Swiss National Bank ended its cap of 1.20 francs per euro on Jan 15. About two-thirds of the firm's costs are in francs, while more than two-thirds of revenue is from other currencies.

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Julius Baer's full-year net income rose 96 per cent to 367 million francs in 2014, from 188 million francs a year earlier, the bank said in the statement. Gross margin, or revenue as a proportion of managed assets, was 94 basis points, compared with 96 basis points in 2013.

Julius Baer said it will propose an increase in its shareholder dividend to 1 franc per share, from 60 centimes a share.

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