* 2008 net outflows 1.3 bln Sfr
* Sees more pressure on country’s banking secrecy
* Shares fall 4 pct, underperforming European banks
(Adds analyst’s comment, share price)
ZURICH, Mar 10 (Reuters) - Liechtenstein's VP Bank VPB.S said it had net outflows of 1.3 billion Swiss francs ($1.13 billion) and that 2009 would be another difficult year as it predicted more pressure on the country's banking secrecy.
The Vaduz-based bank reported a 2008 net loss of 80.3 million Swiss francs, confirming a figure it reported last month as the market crisis forced it to make writedowns, and said it would cut costs by 10 percent in 2009. [ID:nLN393576]
VP Bank shares were 2 percent lower at 48.00 Swiss francs at 0945 GMT, when the DJ Stoxx European banking index .SX7P was up 4.7 percent.
“We do not believe that outflows will stop given the pressure on international banking secrecy. The cost cut of 10 percent will not be enough to offset the lower income base in our view. And further writedowns in 2009 due to the financial investments are possible,” said Vontobel analyst Tobias Bruetsch.
Liechtenstein’s third-biggest bank said 2008 was challenging for traditional offshore banking centres like Liechtenstein and Switzerland, which are under fire for their banking secrecy rules, and that it expected important political decisions to be made in 2009 for the country’s status as a financial centre.
“We will continue to give high priority to the protection of our clients’ privacy. At the same time, we have to take account of the changed legal conditions in the countries where our clients are domiciled in our advice and asset management,” said Chief Executive Adolf Real.
Liechtenstein’s banks have had a tough time since Germany launched an investigation last year into suspected tax dodging, targeting 1,000 people suspected of parking money there. The country has said it will lift some of the veil of secrecy on its banks, making it harder to hide money there.
Liechtenstein, an Alpine country of 35,000 residents whose economy is heavily dependent on the financial sector, is one of only three countries on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) blacklist of uncooperative tax havens, alongside Andorra and Monaco. ($1=1.155 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Jason Rhodes; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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