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OCBC's Bank of Singapore gets regulatory nod to launch Luxembourg unit

BANK of Singapore (BOS), the private banking arm of OCBC Bank, has been granted a licence to operate a wealth management subsidiary in Luxembourg, Western Europe, in what it claims is a first for a Singapore private bank.

Through its new subsidiary, BOS Wealth Management Europe Société Anonyme (SA), BOS will be able to offer customised private banking solutions and investment advisory services to its ultra high and high net worth clients within the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK, the bank said.

The EEA comprises the European Union countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Currently, the bank serves its European clients from its Singapore headquarters and through its parent company’s London office.

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In a press statement on Monday, BOS noted that its foray into Luxembourg is timely as Europe saw a substantial increase in the number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and wealth in 2016, based on the 2017 Capegemini World Wealth report.

Additionally, the number of HNWIs in Europe rose by 7.7 per cent to 4.5 million people, outpacing the 7.4 per cent increase in the Asia-Pacific region. In terms of high net worth individual (HNWI) wealth, Europe also registered the third-highest growth (8.2 per cent) by region.

The Luxembourg business will be helmed by Anthony Simcic, who will report directly to Olivier Denis, BOS’s global market head for Singapore, Malaysia and International. Mr Simcic, who has 18 years of banking experience, was most recently head of private banking for HSBC Private Bank in Luxembourg.

The new subsidiary is slated to begin operations in the third quarter this year, with an official opening in the second quarter of 2019.

Said BOS CEO Bahren Shaari: "Since the global financial crisis of 2008, European high net worth individuals and family offices have shown increasing interest in Asia, and especially in Singapore, as an alternative wealth hub."

With more than four trillion euros (S$6.38 trillion) in assets under management, Luxembourg is the largest investment fund centre in Europe, second only to the United States worldwide.

BOS added that it has seen "robust growth" in its assets under management from EEA clients as they hold Singapore in high regard due to its economic and political stability, and access to global and regional financial markets.

As at 2.59pm on Monday, OCBC shares were trading 1.2 per cent lower to S$11.16.