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Credit Suisse considers return to U.S. private banking after exit

Credit Suisse is considering a return to U.S. wealth management after a four-year absence as Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam seeks to boost growth in private banking.

Talks have focused on the ambition to add $15 billion of assets under management at a new base in Miami, mostly catering to wealthy Latin Americans, people familiar with the matter said. If the bank moves ahead, it could employ up to 30 people including control and support staff in Florida, the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are private. No final decision has been taken and talks are at an early stage, they said.

The venture would be symbolically important for the Swiss bank, marking a return to private banking on U.S. soil after an agreement to transfer its U.S. brokerage to Wells Fargo in 2015. The U.S. is one of the biggest offshore wealth centers in the world, with Miami especially favored by Latin America clients because of its close geographic and cultural links. Buoyed by a more favorable regulatory environment, the U.S. is likely to see strong growth from Latin American and Asian investors, according to the BCG Global Wealth Report.

A pedestrian walks past the Credit Suisse Group AG headquarters in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Credit Suisse and UBS Group AG could manage a potential share sale of Stadler Rail AG as it explores a potential initial public offering. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

A spokesman for Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Switzerland’s second-biggest lender reached an agreement in 2014 to plead guilty and pay about $2.6 billion to the U.S. Justice Department and regulators for helping U.S. citizens hide money. The bank shifted strategy a year later under Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam, who sought to bolster returns by focusing on the home market of Switzerland and expanding in Asian wealth management. The bank agreed the brokerage transfer a year later.

The U.S. ranks fourth largest for offshore wealth behind Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore, and is likely to hold about $1 trillion for non US residents by 2023, according to BCG. Credit Suisse’s international wealth management business has focused on Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and was led until recently by Iqbal Khan, who moved to rival UBS. He was replaced by Philipp Wehle.