IBTimes UK

OCBC beat Singapore's largest lender DBS in the race for British bank Barclay's wealth and investment management businesses in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Singapore's second biggest bank said its private banking subsidiary Bank of Singapore has agreed to buy part of Barclay's wealth management business for $320 million.

Apart from DBS, several other Asian and European bidders, including Credit Suisse, were in the race for the Barclay's business in the initial phase of the sale process, Reuters reported.

The British bank has been exploring options to sell its Singapore-based wealth unit over the last year.

Barclay's put the Asian wealth management business on the block even as major European banks attempted to re-align their strategy in Asia due cost pressure s back home.

Bank of Singapore's assets under management will rise to $73.3 billion with the Barclays' assets acquisition.

"The acquisition of Barclays WIM Singapore and Hong Kong furthers OCBC Bank's strategic goal of deepening its presence in its four core markets - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Greater China - and particularly expands its wealth management business," OCBC said.

It added that the move will strengthen Bank of Singapore's position as Asia's global private bank and enhance value for Barclays WIM Singapore and Hong Kong clients.

The bank said the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this year and that it will require the approval of Singapore High Court.

Barclays' Asian private wealth business is valued at S$600 million. The unit has offices in Hong Kong, India, Japan and Singapore.

Barclays said earlier this year the global revenue from its wealth management business dropped 17 per cent to S$460 million in the third quarter of the last year compared with the previous year.

According to the database of Private Banker International, Barclays managed $36 billion in private banking assets in Asia while DBS manage twice as much at $73.2 billion.

OCBC posted a 21 percent rise in fourth quarter profits, beating expectations. The bank's net profit was S$960 million ($683.42 million) in the quarter ended December, compared with S$791 million in the previous year.

IBTimes UK