How Citizens turned First Republic defeat into private banking victory
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How Citizens turned First Republic defeat into private banking victory


Exactly one year ago, San Francisco-based First Republic Bank was sold by regulators amid a US regional banking crisis. Citizens Financial Group, which had seen the sale as a chance to turbocharge its private banking ambitions, lost out to JPMorgan. But far from being the end of the story, that failed bid was just the beginning. Within weeks the bank had announced First Republic’s Susan deTray as the head of its new private bank, a unit that is now at the heart of a fast-growing wealth franchise.

For hours it seemed like nothing was happening. It was the evening of Sunday April 30, 2023, and over at City Oyster in Delray Beach, on the Florida coast, Bruce Van Saun was trying to have one last dinner with friends before closing up his holiday house for the season.

But he was distracted. As chairman and chief executive of Citizens Financial Group, he was also bidding for a failing institution that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was hawking around – First Republic Bank, a San Francisco-based commercial and private banking firm with over $200 billion in assets.

A number of banks had submitted offers earlier that day, and Citizens was among those given the chance to fine-tune bids before a 7pm deadline.

The final touches done, Van Saun headed out to dinner. But his cell phone nagged at him as he ate, teasing him with the possibility of good news that could come at any moment.


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Deputy editor
Mark Baker is deputy editor. Prior to joining Euromoney magazine he was based in Hong Kong as managing editor, Asia, for the Capital Markets Group. He previously edited EuroWeek magazine and was also deputy editor at International Financing Review.
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