* Client assets fall 19 pct to 82 bln Sfr in H1
* Hedge fund assets fall by 20 bln Sfr
* Tier 1 ratio rises to 24.9 pct
(Adds details, background)
ZURICH, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Union Bancaire Privee [UBP.UL] saw a steep fall in assets under management in the first half of 2009 as clients pulled money from risky asset classes in the wake of the Madoff scandal. The bank, which has admitted an exposure of more than 1 billion Swiss francs to Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion fraud, said on Wednesday client assets fell to 81.6 billion Swiss francs ($76.91 billion) at the end of June from 100.7 billion francs at the end of 2008.
The hedge fund segment was particularly hard hit as assets slumped to 25.7 billion francs from 45 billion francs at the end of 2008.
UBP assets in funds of hedge funds had been as high as 57.9 billion francs, or almost half total assets, at the end of June 2008, when the bank was one of the world’s largest fund of hedge funds investors.
In June, UBP Chief Executive Guy de Picciotto told the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung that UBP would reduce the proportion of assets invested in hedge funds, and increase exposure to long-only investment products, bonds and niche investments.
The deleveraging of the portfolio helped pushed the bank’s Tier 1 capital ratio up to 24.9 percent from 18.5 percent at year end.
A spokesman said the bank remains committed to hedge funds and recently made two high profile appointments to its alternative investment arm, Sarah Sprung and Jonathan Morgan, who both have extensive experience in hedge funds.
De Picciotto also told the NZZ the bank has several billion Swiss francs available for takeovers and sees interesting opportunities in the Swiss private banking sector.
Consolidation in the private banking industry appears to be accelerating in Switzerland, with Germany’s Commerzbank CBGK.DE announcing it had sold two Swiss private banking units last week. ($1=1.061 Swiss Franc) (Reporting by Martin de Sa’Pinto; editing by Simon Jessop)