September 12, 2013 / 2:46 AM / 4 years ago

EXCLUSIVE-SocGen said to explore sale of Asia private bank

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Societe Generale, France’s No. 2 listed bank, is exploring the sale of its Asia private banking arm, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, seeking to exit a market where small managers are getting hit by rising costs and competition.

The Singapore-based division could fetch around $600 million, the people familiar said, though the actual sale price has yet to be determined and may exceed that figure. The sources declined to be identified as the discussions are confidential.

A Paris-based spokeswoman for SocGen declined comment.

SocGen is the third major global financial institution to seek to sell its Asian wealth arm in the last five years, as the region’s surging tide of millionaires and billionaires have posed a challenge to smaller private banks, which lack the asset base to compete with large global players and local upstarts.

According to the 2013 Capgemini/RBC Wealth Report, Asia Pacific is expected to be the region with the world’s biggest population of high net worth individuals by next year. Its wealthy currently hold $12 trillion in assets, second behind North America with $12.7 trillion. (Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Denny Thomas; additional reporting by Lionel Laurent in Paris and Lawrence White in Hong Kong; Editing by Michael Flaherty and Jeremy Laurence)

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