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Sun 16 Oct 2011 05:25 PM

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Abu Dhabi’s Falcon says close to goal of $1bn in assets

Aabar Investment-owned bank says assets under management at $950m as of end-Sept

Abu Dhabi’s Falcon says close to goal of $1bn in assets
Falcon is keen to grow its business in the wealthy emerging Gulf markets

Falcon Private Bank, the Swiss bank owned by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments, is close to reaching its target of $1bn in assets under management out of the UAE by the year-end.

The Zurich-based bank, which saw inflows of $541m in net new money in the first two months of the year, had assets valued at $950m as of September 2011, it said in a statement.

“In line with expansion plans, Falcon Private Bank set a target of increasing assets under management from the UAE to $1bn by the end of 2011,” the firm said on Sunday.

“The Bank has almost hit this mark.”

Falcon, which was bought by Aabar in December 2008, said in November last year it planned to almost double its assets under management to $20bn within three years by tapping growing wealth in emerging markets.

The bank lost nearly $1bn after shrinking its institutional assets to a few core units, a loss that was offset by a gain of $1.83bn in private banking assets under management.

It generated $1.83bn in net new funds globally last year, $540m of which came from the UAE, the CEO said. 

“We had a very successful 2010 because our total new money went from $12.2bn to $12.75bn till the end of 2010,” Eduardo Leemann told Arabian Business in March.

“It wasn’t in our strategy to lose a billion in assets, obviously, but it just happened that way.

“There are certain things we just don’t do anymore. We’ve closed a few funds, hedge funds and so forth. With the new strategy focusing on private banking, we lost a few pension fund mandates, particularly in Switzerland and Germany,” he said.

Private banks have pushed to grow their businesses in emerging markets where economic expansion is driving household wealth.

Last week, Dubai investment bank Shuaa Capital also announced plans to reinvent itself as an advisory body to the Middle East’s super rich, in a bid to diversify its revenues away from investment.

The firm, which has struggled to stay afloat assays investment fees dry up, plans to offers its services to wealthy clients in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the firm’s new CEO said.

Amid rising oil prices, experts believe the Middle East is an increasingly lucrative market for private banking.

Abu Dhabi-owned Aabar paid around $273m and assumed $104.45m in debt to buy Falcon from American insurance giant AIG in 2008.

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