SocGen to buy Kleinwort, expand private bank business

Société Générale is to buy the Kleinwort Benson wealth management group and merge it with Hambros, SocGen’s private bank, to create what it said in a statement would immediately be “one of the leading private banks in the UK market”.

The deal, announced today, is subject to regulatory approvals, and includes Kleinwort Benson Channel Islands Holdings Ltd, SocGen said in a statement.

SocGen is buying Kleinwort from Oddo, another French bank, which acquired it in January as part of its €760m purchase of BHF Kleinwort Benson.

Kleinwort currently has operations in London, Jersey, Guernsey and Dublin.

The Kleinwort Benson purchase is seen as reflecting Société Générale’s growth ambitions in private banking in its core markets of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and as being aligned with what it says is its strategic objective of being “a relationship-focused private bank of reference”.

Jean-Francois Mazaud, head of Societe Generale Private Banking, said the deal would “bring together two of the most recognised names in private banking, with shared values and a shared heritage in the UK and Channel Islands, established through their deep-rooted history here”.

He said it would also enable SocGen to leverage the expertise and strengths of the teams from each of the businesses.

Kleinwort Benson is one of the UK’s oldest banks, tracing its origins back to 1786, when it got its start in trade financing. The name evolved from the 1961 merger of Liverpool’s Rathbone & Benson with a German entity founded by Hinrich Kleinwort. After Jersey changed its banking laws in 1961 to permit institutions to pay more than 5% interest, Kleinwort was the second bank to open an outpost on that island.

In addition to providing private banking and wealth management services to wealthy clients, Kleinwort has developed an expertise as an adviser to major UK infrastructure projects.

Hambros Bank dates back to 1839 in the UK, when it began as a merchant bank financing domestic and international businesses.

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