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Swiss bank Lombard Odier reveals profits

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Swiss bank Lombard Odier reveals profits
Lombard Odier is the second Swiss private bank in a week to publish its profits. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
11:32 CEST+02:00
Swiss private bank Lombard Odier has published its first results since its foundation over two centuries ago, as the ultra-discreet sector puts its books in the spotlight.

The Geneva-based bank said on Thursday that its first-half net profit was 62.5 million francs ( $68.2 million), while assets under management came to 156 billion francs.
   
"These results are in line with our expectations and reflect both the investments we make towards our strategic objectives as well as the conservative use of our balance sheet," said senior managing partner Patrick Odier in a statement.
   
"Our group is increasingly diversified, more international and more balanced between private and asset management clients and we are expanding our partnerships with financial services providers," he added.
   
Lombard Odier, founded in 1797, is the second Swiss private bank in a week to publish its figures.
   
On Tuesday, Geneva rival Pictet broke with its 209-year-old tradition by announcing a six-month profit of 203 million francs and assets under management of 404 billion francs.
   
Lombard Odier said its tier one capital ratio – a benchmark of stability, which measures a bank's own top-notch funds – was 23.8 percent.
   
In comparison, Pictet's was 21.7 percent.
   
Under global rules, banks must have a ratio of at least 4.5 percent, while Switzerland's regulator requires 7.8 percent.

Sector shake-up
   
Swiss private banks have changed shape amid a tougher regulatory environment since the global financial crisis and scandals such as the Madoff fraud case in the US which rippled across the world's banking sector.
   
Traditional Swiss banking secrecy has meanwhile been under fire as governments – notably the US and EU – crack down on tax cheats who stash cash abroad.
   
The private banking sector caters for the super-wealthy, an increasingly globalized client group.
   
The complex nature of international finance has meanwhile made it difficult for private bankers to feel safe with their tradition of putting their personal assets on the line.

The shake up in the sector began in January when Pictet and Lombard Odier ditched their old statutes, followed by fellow private banks Mirabaud and LaRoche, which are also scheduled to publish their results.
   
The old rules made their handful of wealthy managing partners – bankers for generations – personally responsible for clients' money.
   
If the bank got into trouble, the partners could lose all their assets, not just those they had invested in the operation.
   
The banks are now a "corporate partnership", a hybrid status making comparison easier with fully-listed players such as Credit Suisse and UBS.
   
It is similar to the "limited company" structure in the UK, with its well-known "Ltd." label.
   
The partners now risk only the funds they have invested in the bank, rather than putting all their personal assets on the line.
   
Not being listed on the stock exchange, the banks do not have to publish as detailed results as mainstream banks.
   
Seven lower-profile private banks have opted to stick to their traditional operating model.

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