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Julius Baer kickstarts wave of wealth management M&A in 2022

The Swiss firm’s decision to sell specialist Zurich-based wealth manager Wergen & Partner is the latest in a series of M&A deals. Expect more activity as private banks expand into new markets, or exit non-core markets to focus resources and invest in technology.

The announcement by Julius Baer on Monday, January 3, that it will sell Wergen & Partner Wealth Management for an undisclosed sum to its management, will have made M&A bankers in Europe and beyond prick up their ears.

Wergen was only bought in February 2017 by the Swiss private banking firm, which said it decided that after carrying out a strategic review, Wergen would “develop best under its existing and future management” team led by founder and chief executive Manfred Wergen.

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Manfred Wergen, Wergen & Partner Wealth Management

The two are vastly different animals. Both are headquartered in Zurich, but Julius Baer is a global outfit with SFr484 billion ($527 billion) in assets under management at the end of October 2021, while Wergen & Partner has just six employees, and oversees SFr1.2 billion in AuM. Julius Baer says the transaction is due to close in the first quarter of 2022.

Wergen is a minnow by industry standards, but it’s an attractive asset, and the surprise is that it wasn’t targeted by larger boutique private banks. It delivers asset management, wealth management and investment consultancy services to ultra-high net-worth private clients and family office, from its offices on the city’s Bahnhofstrasse.