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SocGen buys Kleinwort Benson to expand in UK private banking

[PARIS] Societe Generale SA is taking over the wealth management business of BHF Kleinwort Benson Group SA as part of a plan to expand in private banking in the UK.

The French bank signed an agreement Tuesday to acquire BHF Kleinwort Benson's private-banking operations in the UK and the Channel Islands, the company said in a statement. Societe Generale is already active in UK private banking through its Hambros unit.

This acquisition "will enable us to leverage on the expertise and strengths of the teams from each business to better serve our clients through the creation of a distinctive industry leader in wealth management," Jean-Francois Mazaud, head of SocGen private banking, said in the statement. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Societe Generale is among banks expanding wealth management activities that are typically cash-rich and don't soak up capital. France's second-biggest bank by market value has smaller private-banking operations than rivals BNP Paribas SA and Credit Agricole SA.

Societe Generale had 113 billion euros (S$173 billion) under management in private banking at the end of 2015. Kleinwort Benson had about 7 billion euros (S$10.7 billion) of assets under management, according to its website.

BHF Kleinwort Benson was recently acquired by Oddo & Cie after the French family-controlled bank outbid Fosun International Ltd for the Brussels-based company. Oddo is almost doubling size by buying BHF's German activities.


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