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DBS, Bank of Singapore ready for acquisitions in wealth mission

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DBS Group Holdings Ltd and Bank of Singapore, Asia's largest home-grown private banks, will consider more acquisitions as they grapple for a bigger slice of business from the region's growing number of millionaires.

[HONG KONG] DBS Group Holdings Ltd and Bank of Singapore, Asia's largest home-grown private banks, will consider more acquisitions as they grapple for a bigger slice of business from the region's growing number of millionaires.

DBS would look at any deal that fits with its strategy and is at the "right" price, the bank's consumer and wealth head Tan Su Shan told Bloomberg Television's Haslinda Amin on Tuesday.

Bank of Singapore, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp's private-banking arm, "will definitely evaluate" any opportunities, chief executive officer Bahren Shaari said in a separate TV interview.

The two banks have already announced at least US$400 million of acquisitions this year as they seek to compete with larger western rivals such as UBS Group AG. OCBC completed its purchase of Barclays Plc's wealth-management units in Singapore and Hong Kong on Monday, while DBS said last month it will buy Asian retail and wealth businesses from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

"Consolidation will continue," Mr Shaari said. "That's to be expected. You need scale, you need a competitive advantage to work in this highly regulated, competitive environment."

The Barclays deal pushes his firm's assets under management to more than US$75 billion. That takes it closer to DBS, which was ranked fifth in Private Banker International's annual survey of Asia Pacific banks, with US$79 billion of high-net worth client assets.

DBS is among companies considering bids for ABN Amro Group NV's private-banking business in Asia, a deal that could fetch more than US$300 million, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Ms Tan didn't comment directly when asked about a bid by her bank for those assets, instead reiterating her earlier statements that a deal would have to fit with the direction of the bank.

"We look at deals if it fits in with our overall strategy and there's price discipline and we have both the bandwidth and the operational expertise to do so," Ms Tan said.

BLOOMBERG