Return to relationship-driven roots of merchant banking for new growth market
May 26, 2015 - Kleinwort Benson, a leading merchant bank with principal activities in private banking, asset management and financial markets and corporate advisory, is pleased to announce the sale of a significant equity stake in its London-based private banking and corporate advisory subsidiary Kleinwort Benson Bank (“KBBL” or “the Bank”) to Samena Capital (“Samena”), the premier investment group focused on principal investments in the Subcontinent, Asia, Middle East and North Africa (collectively known as the SAMENA region). The transaction brings together an unparalleled group of high net worth, entrepreneurial shareholders from Europe and across the SAMENA markets with a view to advancing their shared desire for a return to relationshipdriven banking and access to differentiated investment opportunities. Founded over 200 years ago and headquartered in London, Kleinwort Benson Bank is one of the most prestigious and successful names in merchant banking, providing private wealth, banking, fiduciary and corporate advisory services. KBBL ended 2014 with £3.4 billion in assets under management. It holds a full UK banking licence and has been evolving rapidly to capture the opportunities presented by fragmentation of the global economy, technological advances and dislocation in the universal banking model as well as seeking to bring proprietary investment opportunities to its significant private banking client base. Samena is ideally placed to drive that pipeline of investment opportunities from across the SAMENA region with its group of shareholder-entrepreneurs who are actively involved in originating investment ideas and supporting portfolio companies across a US$750 million portfolio. Meanwhile, the investment in KBBL creates a complementary third pillar for Samena alongside its established private equity and credit businesses and presents the opportunity to expand its shareholder group and distribution channels given the high-profile European and Asian shareholders of Kleinwort Benson. The transaction is expected to close by the third quarter of 2015, subject to closing conditions, including regulatory approval. Following the closing, the shareholders also intend to establish a new global merchant banking operation under KBBL in Dubai to offer advisory services for corporate activity in the region.
Leonhard Fischer, CEO of BHF Kleinwort Benson Group said, “For Kleinwort Benson, this is a long-term strategic partnership which allows us to build on the significant progress we have made in building this historic franchise in recent years. Our firmly-held view is that opportunity lies in the closer integration of established and developing markets and the ability to introduce clients to high-calibre, differentiated investments that are not available from more commoditised providers. We are bringing together the heft and reach of our diversified shareholder base, including China’s Fosun Group, with Samena Capital’s unique group of business leaders and value creators from across the Middle East and Asia.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Shirish Saraf, Founder and Vice Chairman of Samena Capital said, “We are extremely pleased to announce this strategic equity partnership with one of the most historic names in banking. Profound and permanent dislocation of financial institutions creates a pressing opportunity to return to the traditional, relationship-driven roots of merchant banking. Both Samena and Kleinwort Benson are responding to a clarion call from our investors to create a new type of partner to high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs in both their personal and corporate affairs.
“Samena can help to underpin the solid recent progress made by Kleinwort Benson and build out a global operation with a strong focus on the emerging markets. We bring unique client and shareholder networks and access to distinctive investment opportunities from entrepreneurs, business groups and sovereigns across Asia and the Middle East. We are excited to be partners in Kleinwort Benson and look forward to growing the business together.”
Martha Boeckenfeld, CEO of Kleinwort Benson Bank added, “We are excited to partner with Samena and pursue the opportunities between our respective offerings to enhance the services we provide to our clients. The partnership will combine the prowess of KBBL’s traditional merchant banking with the flexible and innovative investment solutions offered by Samena to clients in developing regions and internationally.”