Swiss group Safra buys Sarasin bank

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Safra financial group has purchased Dutch lender Rabobank holdings in Swiss bank Sarasin for one million Swiss francs (811 million euros), becoming the majority shareholder, the banks announced Friday.

"I can confirm that Rabobank has sold its shares in Sarasin for around one million Swiss francs (811,000 euros)," Rabobank spokeswoman Fransce Verdeuzeldonk told AFP.

A spokesman for Sarasin said the purchase valued Sarasin at 2.3 billion francs.

"Safra Group and Rabobank have entered into a share purchase agreement under which Safra will acquire a majority shareholding" in Sarasin bank with 68.63 percent voting rights and 46.07 percent equity interest, the companies added in a combined statement.

In acquiring the 46.1 percent stake, Safra hopes to unify the private banking sector, "bringing additional distribution channels for Sarasin products and an access to new and growing markets," the statement added.

Sarasin, which was established in 1841, is a force in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, while Safra's markets are the Americas and Europe.

Rabobank executive board member Sipko Schat welcomed the deal saying it would benefit all three parties, while Safra group's Joseph Safra said the investment reflected Safra's commitment and confidence in Sarasin.

Dutch lender Rabobank has around 10 million customers in 48 countries and employs 59,400 people, while the Safra group has a history spanning 200 years with branches in 125 countries and 6,500 employees.

Sarasin reported assets of 101.6 billion Swiss francs (83 billion euros) in June.

© 2011 AFP

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