Societe Generale, France’s No. 2 listed bank, is exploring the sale of its Asia private banking arm, people familiar with the matter said, seeking to exit a market where small managers are getting hit by rising costs and competition.
The Singapore-based division could fetch around $600 million, the sources said, though the actual sale price has yet to be determined and may exceed that figure. The sources declined to be identified as the discussions are confidential.
A Paris-based spokeswoman for SocGen declined comment.
SocGen is the third major global financial institution to seek to sell its Asian wealth arm in the last five years, as the region’s surging tide of millionaires have posed a challenge to smaller banks, which lack the asset base to compete with large global players and local upstarts.
While Asia is among the fastest growing regions in the world for individual wealth, its millionaires and billionaires tend to offer small chunks of their riches to many wealth managers, rather than picking one to preserve over time.
Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore’s United Overseas Bank and DBS Group are among the firms that may express interest in the business.
Although SocGen does not break out country details for the private bank, the Asia business may account for around 10-12 billion euros of assets under management, according to Jean-Pierre Lambert of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.