Julius Baer to close Panama and Peru offices

Julius Baer is shutting down its Panama and Peru operations as the private bank forges ahead with a strategic review of its Latin American business.

The Swiss bank is set to shut down its Panama City and Lima locations as it shifts its focus to three larger markets in the region.

The bank is seeking to retain client relationships in those countries while bankers and support staff will be relocated to the Bahamas, Chile or Switzerland, Bloomberg reports.

Julius Baer has been conducting a “strategic realignment” of its Latin American business for about a year, and has previously said it is focusing on growing in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

The closures of the offices in Peru and Panama are a result of the review, as the bank has determined that the two countries are not locations where it can build scale. It has not given a timeline for the closure of the offices.

The Swizz bank decision follows the arrest and conviction in the US of a former employee of the bank in the central American country for laundering money embezzled from Venezuela’s state oil company. Julius Baer has not been charged in the case.

Peru is an advisory office with only two relationship managers, whereas Panama is a larger operation with four client advisers and a booking centre that employs more than 30 people, some of whom will be made redundant, according to the FT.

“We are very committed to keep our current clients in Panama and Peru and will offer to relocate our key employees” to offices in the Bahamas or Chile, said Julius Baer.

The bank is studying the launch of a representative office in Mexico – where it currently operates through a joint venture -, a possible market entry in Argentina and further expansion in Chile and Colombia through strategic partnerships.

Julius Baer is also in early discussions to open in Miami to cater to wealthy Latin individuals from there and is evaluating different scenarios, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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