Historic Swiss bank could soon be absorbed by upstart competitor

Article published on March 25, 2015
Article published on March 25, 2015

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

One of the banks in the foundation of the famous Swiss banking culture may soon be nothing more than a footnote in the greater financial history.

Banque Pasche, which was founded as the brokerage firm Girard, Roux & Cie in Geneva, Switzerland in 1885, has lived many lifetimes in its 130 years. Now a private wealth firm named for a later partner, Banque Pasche is majority owned by Crédit mutuel-CIC group. In the early 1960s, that banking group invested in Pasche to allow them to expand beyond their Swiss borders, and the bank eventually had satellite locations in Monaco, Liechtenstein and the Bahamas.

These locations were part of a strategic expansion triggered by Pasche’s ultra-wealthy clientele, and the bank figured that in order to build the strongest relationship with these cosmopolitan customers, it should provide a consistently great experience across the European continent and abroad. It also helped that each of the eventual subsidiary offices were in major financial centers that attracted the kind of extreme wealth that Pasche was looking to attract.

Now, however, Banque Pasche has sold each of its three foreign subsidiaries to a company more than a century younger than itself. Banque Havilland SA, established in Luxembourg in 2009 by British real estate mogul David Rowland, has undergone a significant international expansion of its own in just a few short years. After establishing offices in London and Monaco, Havilland doubled down on the Mediterranean playground when it acquired Pasche’s Monaco location. In the last few months, after the Swiss bank held talks with many other interested institutions, also sold its Liechtenstein and Bahamas locations to Havilland.

Despite Pasche’s claims that it relinquished its international holdings in order to focus on its domestic pursuits, there is talk of Havilland eventually absorbing the entire Pasche outfit, including its two remaining Swiss locations in Zurich and Geneva.

Essentially, Pasche’s family of banks is allowing Havilland to accomplish the same thing their predecessor attempted a few decades before: create a personalized, intimate relationship that extends beyond borders. The world is increasingly flat for the world’s ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals, and investments in emerging markets across the globe are growing. Havilland is no doubt hoping to retain its current clientele and grow larger by providing a multinational banking experience and a geographically diverse portfolio of investments.