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Barclays among parties eyeing SocGen's UK private bank, sources say

Credit: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

By Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Andres Gonzalez and Oliver Hirt

LONDON/ZURICH, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Barclays BARC.L is in the early stages of considering a bid for Societe Generale's SOGN.PA UK private bank, in an effort to expand its business targeting wealthy individuals, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Such a move would fit with plans by Barclays, which is to present a strategy review next week, to revamp its business, but it would face competition.

Barclays' interest in SocGen's British private bank comes on the heels of its acquisition of Tesco's banking operations, as part of efforts to diversify away from volatile investment banking income.

Last year it also started analysing options for its global payment activities spanning merchant acquiring and credit card services as a part of broader review into how it allocates resources.

SocGen, advised by Rothschild & Co, has begun inviting bidders to take part in an auction for its Kleinwort Hambros unit, two of the people said.

Among those invited to bid for the unit are Lloyds Banking Group LLOY.L, as well as wealth managers Rathbones RAT.L and Raymond James RJF.N, two of the people and a fourth source said.

However, Rathbones has opted not to participate in the process, a person familiar with its thinking said.

London-based Kleinwort Hambros, which in 2022 had more than 12 billion pounds ($15 billion) in assets under management, could be worth up to 700 million pounds in a sale, one of the people estimated.

SocGen is also readying a sale of its private banking operations in Switzerland as it looks to shed businesses in a strategy revamp, they said.

Deliberations remain at a preliminary stage, and there is no certainty that a transaction will materialise, sources cautioned.

Barclays and SocGen both declined to comment.

The British bank, led by CEO C.S. Venkatakrishnan, is set to announce a on Feb. 20 alongside its full-year results.

Its shareholders are pushing for it to streamline its business model and produce higher, more sustainable returns for less risk, Reuters has reported. Its shares have underperformed UK and eurozone banking indexes, data shows. ($1 = 0.7969 pounds)

(Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Andres Gonzalez and Oliver Hirt; Additional reporting by Iain Withers, Lawrence White and Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Anousha Sakoui, Jason Neely and Keith Weir)

((Pablo.MayoCerqueiro@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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