17 December 2013

Merck Finck wants to consolidate German bank market  

Michael Krume, CEO of Merck Finck, says in a Reuters interview that Merck Finck continues to look for potential acquisitions in the German markets after it lost the bid to buy Credit Suisseā€™s German private banking business from Bethmann Bank.

Merck Finck is on the lookout for potential acquisitions in Germany after being outbid by ABM Amro's Bethmann Bank in the auction for private banking operations that Credit Suisse had put on the block.

"The German banking market is ripe for consolidation. Some banks, which have in vain tried to get a foothold here, are pulling back now - especially Swiss banks," Chief Executive Michael Krume told Reuters in an interview published on Tuesday.

"There are only a few banks which willingly take on such portfolios - we are one of them. We want to benefit from opportunities that come up and acquire single employees, teams and whole structures."

Credit Suisse earlier this month sold its private bank in Germany to Frankfurt-based Bethmann Bank, part of state-owned ABN AMRO, in a deal that analysts estimate was worth 100-150 million Swiss francs ($113-$169 million).

Bethmann acquired 10 billion euros in assets under management for wealthy clients, or those with at least 1 million euros to invest. That vaulted it into third place among private banks in Germany, behind Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.

"It was a neck-and-neck race," Krume said, adding that the Credit Suisse unit would have made a good fit for his bank, which is owned by Luxembourg-based KBL European Private Bankers.

"Size is not everything, but growth is very important for us. Over the next years we want to grow organically by 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) annually in assets under management," Krume said. Merck Finck currently manages assets worth 9 billion euros, while KBL has 41 billion euros under management.

"It is wonderful when an owner has deep pockets," Krume said, adding that he sees strongest growth potential for his bank in northern Germany.

New hiring will help Merck Finck fulfil its ambitions.

"We want to massively recruit new consultants but not by offering bonus payments for poaching staff from rivals," Krume said.

-Reuters