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Sarasin targets Mideast growth with Bahrain licence

To offer wealthy clients advisory services in Bahrain.

August 24, 2010 2:52 by

Swiss private bank Sarasin won a banking licence in Bahrain as it tries to ramp up its services to wealthy clients in Asia and the Gulf region, just a year after pulling out of the kingdom.

The new entity, Sarasin-Alpen Bahrain, is part of the bank’s Sarasin-Alpen subsidiary, the bank said on Tuesday. The subsidiary began operations in Dubai in 2005 and has offices in Oman, Qatar and India.

It is Sarasin’s second attempt to expand into Bahrain. Last year the bank pulled out of a planned joint venture and surrendered its investment business license there.

“Sarasin’s other activities in the region are not affected and while our entry into Bahrain has been postponed for the present, our expansion strategy in the Middle east and Asia remains intact,” the spokeswoman said at the time.

Sarasin, owned by Dutch-based Rabobank, focuses on the Swiss market and selected European markets such as Germany, as well as Asia and the Middle East, which Swiss wealth managers see as having large growth potential.

“The Middle East is one of three key regions on which we are focusing our hopes for the future,” said Sarasin Chief Executive Joachim Straehle.

Sarasin is also in the market to buy another private bank but few meet its wish list of a target with $20 billion to $50 billion in taxed assets and a reasonable sale price, CEO Joachim Straehle told Reuters last month.

(Reporting by Jason Rhodes and Martin de Sa’Pinto; Editing by David Holmes)

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