By Katharina Bart
ZURICH, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Former Deutsche Bank risk chief Hugo Baenziger is to join Lombard Odier as a managing partner, tasked with helping the family-owned Geneva-based private bank expand outside Switzerland.
The move represents a rare outside appointment at partner level for the private bank with $225 billion in client assets that traces its roots back to the late 18th century and is run in part by seventh-generation descendents of its founding families.
Baenziger, in turn, is more at home with investment banking and sophisticated financial risk models, after spending 16 years at Deutsche Bank, a prominent fixed-income player. He left the German lender 2012 as part of a management reshuffle.
Since then, he has devoted his time to lecturing, a board position at derivatives bourse Eurex and a European Union advisory group on bank safety rules.
Like many Swiss private banks, Lombard Odier is pushing out of its home market against the backdrop of pressure on banking secrecy, which is shrinking profits from private banking in Switzerland.
“As we continue to grow our private client, institutional and banking infrastructure businesses, Hugo’s breadth of expertise, especially in finance and risk management, will be a significant advantage in our international expansion,” said Patrick Odier, Lombard Odier’s senior managing partner.
Lombard Odier, formed in 2002 when two centuries-old firms joined forces, is the largest Swiss private bank to say it would work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on lenders suspected of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through hidden offshore accounts.
Scores of smaller rivals have also come forward and roughly a dozen Swiss private banks including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and Geneva rival Pictet & Cie are being formally investigated by prosecutors.
Until last year, Lombard Odier was one of a handful of exclusive Swiss banks including Wegelin & Cie, Switzerland’s oldest bank, to be wholly owned by their managing partners, who bore direct financial responsibility for the business.
Last February, Lombard as well as Geneva rival Pictet reorganised their respective businesses to limit partners’ liability and increase transparency, both citing the need to adapt their structure to help them to develop.
Wegelin shut just over a year ago after a guilty plea in the United States to charges of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through secret accounts. ($1 = 0.9113 Swiss francs) (Editing by David Holmes)