February 7, 2019 / 1:11 PM / a year ago

Goldman Sachs considers Swiss mortgage market entry

The Goldman Sachs company logo is seen in the company's space on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

ZURICH (Reuters) - U.S. bank Goldman Sachs is holding talks with the Swiss market watchdog over potentially entering the country’s mortgage market, its country chief told reporters on Thursday.

“If we do something it will be very small,” Stefan Bollinger said, noting any move had to fit Goldman Sachs’s pan-European strategy and pointing out that Switzerland was a competitive market whose business cycle was at an advanced stage.

Bollinger said the bank had no plans to launch its Marcus online bank in Switzerland. Goldman Sachs started Marcus in the United States in 2016 and it has seen brisk growth.

Marcus has since expanded to Britain and is considering launches in other markets.

In Switzerland’s property market, vacancy rates have hit their highest levels in more than two decades. But Swiss banks have upped mortgage lending as more investors seek to take advantage of low interest rates.

This has alarmed the Swiss authorities which have warned that banks could be exposed if interest rates rise from abnormally low levels used by the central bank to rein in the Swiss franc.

Reporting by Oliver Hirt, Writing by Michael Shields. Editing by Jane Merriman

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