By Martin Gelnar
ZURICH (MarketWatch) -- UBS AG /zigman2/quotes/206172872/composite UBS +5.33% Wednesday said it plans to acquire French asset manager CCR from Commerzbank AG /zigman2/quotes/202066109/composite CRZBY +4.57% for around EUR435 million, setting the first deal under new chief executive Marcel Rohner.
UBS, Switzerland's largest bank and the world's leading asset manager, expects the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2008 following regulatory approvals.
CCR had EUR17 billion in invested assets mid-2007 and a staff of 190. The acquired company, which is active in equity and fixed-income funds as well as in private client operations, will be integrated into UBS's French asset and wealth management arm.
The deal is in line with UBS' push into European onshore, a strategist said, noting that the purchase price is "pocket money" for the bank.
UBS, the world's largest asset manager but also known for its global investment banking, has in the past few years invested billions of Swiss francs into small to mid-size acquisitions in Germany, France, the U.K. and southern Europe.
The CCR transaction is in line with its strategy of catering to wealthy clients in their home markets. However, the high costs tied to this effort has caused some concern among analyst.
The shares have dropped 14% so far this year.
UBS, which in the past few years thrived on new money inflows and soaring investment banking income, has lost some of its luster recently due to turbulent financial markets but also because of company-specific problems. Mid-year, chief executive Peter Wuffli had to step down, taking the blame for losses at UBS' in-house hedge fund Dillon Read Capital Management.
The bank's acquisitions in the U.S., where it took over a wealth management company some years ago, and the closing of gaps in its fixed-income business, have also led to high costs.
UBS' second-quarter net profit was 5.62 billion Swiss francs ($4.8 billion), boosted by a CHF1.93 billion one-off gain from a divestment of a 20.7% stake in Swiss private bank Julius Baer Holding AG .
Company Web site: http://www.ubs.com