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Qatar’s Al Thani family private bank plans European acquisitions

In addition to its purchase of UBS AG’s private bank in Belgium

Gulf News

KBL European Private Bankers SA, the Luxembourg-based wealth manager ultimately owned by Qatar’s Al Thani family, expects to make two acquisitions in Europe in addition to its purchase of UBS AG’s private bank in Belgium.

“My assumption today is that we will announce two transactions within a reasonable time frame.” Yves Stein, chief executive officer of KBL European Private Bankers, said in a telephone interview on Friday. “We are rather confident that we will soon be back to the press with an announcement in this respect.”

Stein declined to provide details of potential acquisition targets.

Founded in 1949, KBL is a collection of affiliated private banking businesses owned by Precision Capital, the Luxembourg holding company representing the interests of the Al Thani ruling family of Qatar.

The network includes Puilaetco Dewaay in Belgium, Theodoor Gilissen in the Netherlands, Brown Shipley in the UK, and Merck Finck in Germany, as well as KBL units in France, Monaco and Spain. Together they oversaw almost 100 billion euros ($108 billion, Dh399 billion) for private and institutional clients at the end of June, according to the company’s half-year report.

Stein, who joined KBL in 2013 from Geneva-based asset and wealth manager Union Bancaire Privee, said he’s seeking further deals in countries including France, Germany and the UK after acquiring Hampton Dean financial planners in the UK, and UBS’s private bank in Belgium.

KBL is seeking deals to become a top-five player in markets where it operates, with the “sweet spots” in wealth management being individuals with from 1 million to 5 million euros and families with at least 25 million euros, Stein said.

KBL was one of the private banking businesses sold in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis as bailed-out European lenders divested assets and refocused their strategies. Precision Capital acquired it from Belgium’s KBC Groep in 2012 and also purchased Dexia SA’s BIL private bank in 2011.

Geneva-based KBL (Switzerland) Ltd. was fined $18.8 million (Dh69 million) last month as part of a US non-prosecution programme for Swiss banks that facilitated tax evasion for Americans. KBL was found to have kept accounts for US taxpayers in the names of entities in Panama, the British Virgin Islands and Liechtenstein, and helped Americans conceal identities through insurance policy accounts.

KBL and BIL’s Swiss units completed a merger last month, and Stein isn’t looking for acquisitions in Switzerland. The merger came about because KBL didn’t have a sustainable “critical mass” to operate independently and wasn’t related to the US tax issue, Stein said.

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