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Swiss private bank Pictet to expand in Singapore with new wholesale bank licence

THE Pictet Group said on Monday that it has obtained a wholesale bank licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to expand its operations here.

The Swiss private bank said that its Singapore bank, Bank Pictet & Cie (Asia) Ltd (BPCAL), has received regulatory approval for a wholesale bank licence from the MAS, and expects to begin operations as a wholesale bank on April 2.

The new licence will allow BPCAL to additionally offer Singapore dollar (SGD) services, including deposits and loans, within the prescribed regulatory guidelines for wholesale banks.

BPCAL has been operating as a merchant bank since 2004.

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Claude Haberer, Pictet Wealth Management Asia chief executive, said that its upgraded licence underlines the growing importance of Singapore for the Pictet Group in the Asia-Pacific region.

"It's a natural step, coming just six years after receiving a full banking licence in Hong Kong," he said.

Dominique Jooris, BPCAL chief executive and head of Pictet Wealth Management South Asia, said that a wholesale bank licence is pivotal in building Pictet's franchise locally.

"We see great potential in the region for wealth management clients seeking a personalised service, long-term relationships and independent investment advice," said Mr Jooris.

The group has been operating in Hong Kong since 1986 and in Singapore since 1995, employing more than 290 staff in the two locations.

Pictet's Singapore move was not unexpected. It came just a few months after the shocked exit of former chief executive Boris Collardi from Julius Baer, Switzerland's third largest listed bank, to become Pictet's latest partner.

Mr Collardi, who had been behind Julius Baer's aggressive Asian growth, is expected to lead Pictet's international expansion.

The Pictet Group is a partnership of six owner-managers, and the succession and transmission of ownership has remained unchanged since it was founded in 1805. It offers only wealth management, asset management and related asset services.

The group does not offer investment banking nor commercial loans.

It has more than US$522 billion in assets under management or in custody at Dec 31, 2017.

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