May 19, 2015 / 6:32 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Julius Baer assets drop 1 percent in first four months of year

* Assets under management down 1 pct to 289 bln Sfr at end-April

* Net new money growth at the low end of target range

* Shares up 9.2 pct year to date (Adds detail, shares)

ZURICH, May 19 (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Julius Baer said its assets under management fell 1 percent to 289 billion Swiss francs ($312 billion) in the first four months of the year, in large part due to Switzerland’s strong currency.

In a statement on Tuesday, the bank said the surge in the Swiss franc, sparked by a mid-January central bank policy move, resulted in a currency hit of 19 billion francs.

The bank said this, along with Italian and French withdrawals tied to tax evasion clampdowns, meant net new money on an annualised basis was at the low end of its medium-term target of between 4 percent and 6 percent.

Zurich-based Julius Baer had said previously that the franc’s sharp appreciation had reduced its assets under management by 26 billion francs.

In a boost to assets, Julius Baer received 4.3 billion francs in a March transfer from Leumi Private Bank. Julius Baer said in July it would buy the clients at the Swiss private bank of Israel’s Bank Leumi and acquire Leumi’s private banking subsidiary in Luxembourg.

Julius Baer is one of around a dozen Swiss private banks under investigation by U.S. prosecutors for allegedly helping wealthy Americans to evade taxes with hidden offshore account.

It gave no update on the status of negotiations with U.S. officials over a settlement. The bank’s chief executive said in February he was confident it would resolve the probe this year.

Julius Baer’s cost-to-income ratio, a key efficiency measure for banks, improved to a level just below its target range of between 65 percent and 70 percent.

Its Tier 1 capital ratio, a bank’s defences against future losses, was 21.1 percent, well clear of its 12 percent target.

Shares in Julius Baer, up 9.2 pct year to date, were seen opening up 1.4 percent.

$1 = 0.9265 Swiss francs Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by David Holmes

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