Singapore's DBS Bank said Monday it had agreed to buy the Asian private banking business of French lender Societe Generale in a deal worth $220 million, boosting its access to the region's super rich, AFP reports.
DBS said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange that the deal "will accelerate DBS's ambition of becoming a leading wealth manager in Asia".
The acquisition comes at a time of growing competition to manage the wealth of Asia's growing ranks of millionaires and billionaires, known as high net worth individuals.
Under the agreement, DBS will buy Societe General's Asian private banking operations in Singapore and Hong Kong and parts of its trust business.
"This transaction is in line with one of DBS's strategic priorities to be a leading wealth manager in Asia and will significantly increase the scale of its wealth management business," Singapore's leading bank said.
"The transaction will also provide significant revenue synergies as Societe Generale Private Banking Asia clients will have access to DBS's universal banking platform including retail, corporate and investment banking."
Jean-Francois Mazaud, head of Societe Generale Private Banking, described DBS as "the most suitable choice".
"The commercial partnership we intend to implement together will also represent a great opportunity for our private banking customers to fully benefit from the very best of the two banks in Europe and in Asia," he said.
Through a memorandum of understanding, DBS's clients will have access to Societe Generale Private Banking's offerings in Europe, DBS said.
It said the deal will increase its high net worth assets under management by more than 20 percent.
DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta said in an internal memo to staff it was time for the Singapore bank to accelerate its private banking business through an acquisition after "having solidified our position as a leading wealth player in Asia".
"As you know, Asia is growing in affluence, and minting more millionaires every day than anywhere else in the world," he said in the memo, a copy of which was seen by AFP.
He said that in the 2013 financial year, DBS's wealth franchise, including the private banking business, reported record income of Sg$924 million ($730 million)
The bank's total wealth assets under management was Sg$109 billion at the end of last year, he said.
The assets of high-end clients under management was at Sg$69 billion, up from Sg$39 billion in 2010.
Calling the deal complementary, Gupta said Societe Generale Private Banking's client base is largely focused on "ultra high net worth" individuals, many of whom come from outside Southeast Asia.
DBS's expertise is "predominantly in Asian investment products and deal flows," he said.
Gupta said the next step would be to obtain the necessary legal and regulatory approvals, adding that the deal should be completed by the end of the year, with a committee set up to manage the transition.
The deal comes as Asia leads the world in terms of wealth growth.
A Chinese publisher said last month that Asia experienced a billionaire boom in 2013, with more than 200 people from the continent seeing their net worth pass into 10 figures.
The Hurun Report's global rich list said a total of 824 Asians were included among the 1,867 people named as dollar billionaires.
That was an increase of 216 on the previous year, accounting for just over half the overall rise of 414.
"These are exciting times for Asia, and exciting times for DBS," DBS chief executive Gupta said in the internal memo.
"I am confident that with Societe Generale Private Banking Asia as part of the DBS family, we can scale new heights in wealth management. Together, we can be a wealth provider that will truly be a force to be reckoned with."