Lebanon’s SGBL bank to buy KBL European Private Bankers’ French, Monaco businesses

The French and Monegasque operations of Luxembourg-headquartered financial group KBL European Private Bankers (KBL epb) – KBL Richelieu and KBL Monaco – are set to be acquired by the Société Générale de Banque au Liban (SGBL), the Lebanese bank announced.

The transaction is seen as providing a continental Europe banking license to Beirut-based SGBL,  which has unveiled plans to build a global banking platform that it plans to base in France.

The deal is expected to close during the first half of 2018 and subject to regulatory approval, according to a statement by SGBL.

SGBL manages around €21.4bn in assets under management, and has branches in Cyprus and Jordan. The company is owned by majority shareholder Antoun Sehnaoui, while French financial group Societe Generale holds a 16.78% stake.

In the statement announcing the deal, Georges Saghbini, deputy chief executive of SGBL, said the acquisition would result in the creation of a new group, La Compagnie financière Richelieu, fully owned by SGBL, which he said would become the parent company of Banque Richelieu France, Richelieu Gestion and Banque Richelieu Monaco.

“With this acquisition project, SGBL is opening a new era of development in France and Monaco,” Saghbini added.

“Indeed, we intend to develop a long-term industrial project for the Richelieu Bank and all of its employees. It is our will and our commitment.”

In an interview with the Luxembourg business news website Paperjam.lu, George Nasra, chief executive of Precision Capital – the Luxembourg-based bank holding company which currently owns KBL epb – explained that the French private banking industry has recently been hit by a high level of consolidation, and that the 10 largest French private banks hold a 90% market share, which presents a challenge for KBL epb, and its efforts to find viable external growth opportunities.

Nasra told Paperjam.lu, however, that KBL epb itself was “not for sale”.

Other banking entities currently in the KBL epb  stable include Belgium’s Puilaetco Dewaay, Germany’s Merck Finck, Luxembourg’s Banque Puilaetco Dewaay, Spain’s KBL España, Brown Shipley in the UK, and InsingerGilissen in the Netherlands.

KBL epb announced the acquisition of the last of these, InsingerGilissen, from Lombard Odier last month.

The group will have a new chief executive officer in the new year, when BNP Paribas Fortis’ chief executive of retail and private banking, Peter Vandekerckhove, is set to succeed Yves Stein, who is leaving KBL epb in January after five years with the company.

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