* 264 bln Sfr includes 53 bln Sfr from Merrill deal
* Net inflows within 4-6 pct target range
* Gross margin up four basis points to 95 bp
* Cost-income ratio above 73.3 pct vs 65-70 pct goal
ZURICH, May 14 Julius Baer said on
Wednesday that assets rose 4 percent in the first four months of
the year to 264 billion Swiss francs ($296.70 billion) as it
attracted new funds from clients and took a majority stake in a
Brazilian wealth manager.
The Zurich-based private bank is one of 14 Swiss banks,
including Credit Suisse, being targeted by U.S.
prosecutors for allegedly offering hidden offshore accounts to
help clients avoid taxes.
Baer, which hasn't put aside any funds towards a settlement
in the U.S. probe, has said in the past it would like to reach
an agreement with U.S. prosecutors as soon as possible. The bank
made no comment on the probe in its four-month trading statement
Baer said net new money through April was "well within" its
target for 4 to 6 percent growth on existing assets.
The bank said that its gross margin on assets rose to 95
basis points, up from 91 basis points in the second half, in
part due to client activity -- which has long been depressed at
most private banks -- perking up in all regions.
Julius Baer, which is integrating Merrill Lynch's overseas
wealth arm, which it bought in August 2012, said it cut roughly
100 staff in the first four months.
Spending is still a touch above target. Baer said its
cost-income ratio, a key efficiency measure for banks, was
slightly above the 73.3 percent it registered in the second half
of last year. Its goal is a lower ratio of between 65 and 70
The cost ratio, pushed up as a result of the Merrill deal,
is expected to fall in the second half as more of the U.S.
bank's branches are integrated.
Baer's 264 billion francs in assets includes 53 billion
francs from Merrill, of which 42 billion has been booked on
Baer's platform and paid for by the Swiss bank.
The bank's four-month assets were also bolstered by Brazil's
GPS. The Swiss bank bought a majority stake in Brazil's largest
independent wealth manager in March for an estimated 100 million
($1 = 0.8898 Swiss Francs)
(Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Noah Barkin)