June 16, 2014 / 12:20 PM / 4 years ago

UBS says M&A is option, but organic growth preferred

GENEVA (Reuters) - Swiss bank UBS AG UBSN.VX is looking at acquiring other private banks but prefers to grow organically, the head of wealth management at the lender said on Monday.

Prospects in the profitable and low-risk private banking industry have been dimmed by an international crackdown on untaxed assets being held in centers such as Switzerland, the world’s largest offshore center with roughly 2 trillion Swiss francs ($2.22 trillion) in assets.

Despite the tough environment, UBS is targeting annual increases of between 3 and 5 percent in net new money and head of private banking Juerg Zeltner told Reuters this would come primarily through internal expansion.

“Our DNA is organic growth,” Zeltner said after speaking at the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit in Geneva. “But we look at acquisitions, either to access new markets or absorptions.”

Zeltner declined to give any details on its acquisition plans at the Summit, also taking place at Reuters offices in New York and Singapore.

The Swiss bank has been a cautious acquirer in past. In January 2013, UBS completed its takeover of Brasil-based Link Investimentos, a brokerage specialized in equities and derivatives trading, and integrated it into its Brazilian wealth management operations. ($1 = 0.9005 Swiss Francs)

Editing by David Holmes; Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits

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