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Julius Baer's new CEO said to eye deals in Latin America, China

[ZURICH] Julius Baer Group Ltd Chief Executive Officer Bernhard Hodler, set to remain in the job after his predecessor's exit prompted a reshuffle, plans to pursue the existing strategy of seeking deals in regions including South America and China, two people with knowledge of his plans said.

The new CEO, who took over late last year after Boris Collardi's surprise departure, is also seeking to increase the focus on boosting revenues from advisory mandates compared to transaction-based income, the people said, asking not to be identified as the plans aren't public. Switzerland's third-biggest listed wealth manager had said after Mr Collardi's departure that it would start an evaluation process into long-term succession planning.

Mr Hodler previously held positions as chief risk officer and chief operating officer and has been with the Zurich-based bank since 1998. He's having his first meeting with investors on Wednesday to announce earnings and potentially the bank's future strategy. Mr Collardi personified the rise of Baer as a young and energetic CEO, doubling assets from when he took over almost a decade ago and spearheading a drive into Asia, inspired by his experience in Singapore with Credit Suisse Group AG.

Julius Baer is among banks that might acquire local brokerages in Argentina as a way to speed up the licensing process and benefit from the government's tax-amnesty program, which prompted wealthy Argentines to repatriate undeclared money to the South American country, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

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While Baer's new chief has no concrete plans yet for partnerships in China, Mr Hodler is said to eye possibilities for entering the market to cater to onshore clients, two people said. China took a major step towards the long-awaited opening of its financial system, saying last year it will remove foreign ownership limits on banks and asset management companies while allowing overseas firms to take majority stakes in local securities ventures and insurers.

Mr Hodler's goal is to push all clients globally into advisory and discretionary mandates which offer more steady fees, said one of the people, adding that lending will also be a focus for 2018. Julius Baer is among other private banks, which also includes Credit Suisse Group AG, to offer loans as a way to win more wealthy clients, particularly in emerging markets where they're often seen as asset rich but cash poor. A spokesman for Julius Baer declined to comment.

Julius Baer is said also to have put on hold plans for an initial public offering of Italian wealth manager Kairos Investment Management SpA, people familiar said. The bank recently acquired the stake it didn't already own in the bank.

BLOOMBERG

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