Private banking group Kleinwort Benson snapped up for £225m

Belgian buyer to keep name dating back to 1852

Kleinwort Benson, one of the most venerable private banks in the UK, has changed hands after its German owner was forced to sell the business to appease the European Union.

The Belgian private equity group RHJ International announced yesterday it was to buy Kleinwort Benson, owned by the German retail banking group Commerzbank, in a deal worth £225m.

Robert Taylor, the chief executive of Kleinwort Benson – dubbed by one former senior employee as "Commerzbank's Coutts" – was delighted with the outcome, saying the move "means the franchise will be protected and we can look to grow our core business in the UK and the Channel Islands".

The deal marks a reuniting of the RHJ chief executive, Leonhard Fischer, with the bank he left in 2002.

RHJ plans to keep the historic name, which Mr Taylor said was "very important". He added that clients were turning away from the wealth management arms of larger retail and investment banks, "at a time when many major players have seen their brand eroded and when much greater importance is attached to reputation and integrity".

Robert Benson founded his eponymous bank in 1852, three years before the Kleinwort family firm set up Kleinwort Sons & Co, in London's financial district. The groups merged in 1961 and were taken over by Dresdner Bank just over three decades later.

Commerzbank bought Dresdner last year in a deal worth almost €10bn (£9bn), but as the economic downturn bit, the group was forced to go cap-in-hand to the German government.

The €18.2bn bailout had to be ratified by the European Union, which demanded the company sell off certain assets, including Kleinwort Benson, before the funds would be released.

The former employee said: "Kleinwort Benson is very much a UK bank for UK high net worth individuals. It doesn't really fit with Commerzbank's German mass market strategy."

This marks the last association of the Kleinwort name with Commerzbank or Dresdner. The group's investment banking operation, Dresdner Kleinwort, with large operations in the UK, was broken up and renamed earlier this year.

The group had been linked with a private equity-backed management buyout, but it failed to materialise. Sources close to the deal said the process came down to two final biding options, before RHJ was chosen. The Belgian group, launched by Ripplewood founder Timothy Collins, was in negotiations to buy GM Europe, but looks to have lost out to Canada's Magna International. It will use Kleinwort Benson as the brand for its financial services business.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam