Swiss Bank plans radical shake-up

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Swiss Bank Corporation, Switzerland's third-largest bank, is expected to announce today that it is to focus its fund management operations on Chicago, streamline its domestic Swiss retail bank and revamp private banking.

In Switzerland banks are under pressure to cut back their retail operations and the announcement is expected to detail SBC's plans under the management of Franz Menotti, head of domestic banking.

Mr Menotti is expected to announce a streamlining of retail banking from an organisation based on the 26 Swiss cantons into three broader units. This is certain to involve job losses, probably comparable with its competitors, such as Credit Swiss, which plans to shed some 3,000 jobs in Switzerland.

SBC Warburg in London, the investment banking arm of the Swiss bank, declined to comment but speculation mounted late yesterday that the announcement would confirm Chicago-based Gary Brinson as head of the bank's asset management operation.

He runs Brinson Partners, the US asset management operation bought by the Swiss bank, and was said by one source to have an excellent reputation.

The investment banking operation, formed from SBC's merger with British merchant bank SG Warburg, is mainly run out of London already.

SBC fuelled speculation about its future shape after announcing yesterday that it would make an announcement today at what it called an "extraordinary" press conference.

The plans will build on the Basel-based bank's restructuring plan announced in May when it said it would create four new divisions, including asset management and private banking, and organise itself along product lines.

"Tomorrow's announcement will focus along product lines and will put the centre of the asset management operation in the US," said one source. "And there is talk about its Swiss private banking side."

The planned changes will bring SBC into line with other Swiss banks, which have been searching for ways to streamline their retail operations and at the same time boost their profitable international investment banking operations.