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Raiffeisen pursues Swiss tie-up talks with DZ Bank for Notenstein

| ZURICH, Sept 15

ZURICH, Sept 15 Swiss private bank Notenstein and the Swiss unit of Germany's DZ Bank are in talks over a "stronger collaboration", Notenstein's parent company, cooperative lender Raiffeisen, said on Thursday.

The two banks gave few details, beyond saying there are "points of contact" between them which could benefit clients in Germany and Switzerland through country-specific capabilities.

Any deal would be the latest tie-up in Switzerland's fragmented private banking industry, under pressure after global prosecutors chipped away at Swiss bank secrecy rules that enabled the wealthy to keep cash hidden from the taxman.

"In a first step, the private banking subsidiaries Notenstein La Roche Private Bank AG and DZ Private Bank AG have agreed to examine opportunities for cooperation to strengthen private banking in the respective home markets," Raiffeisen said

in a statement.

St. Gallen, Switzerland-based Notenstein had total client assets of 26 billion Swiss francs ($26.7 billion) at the end of June and is primarily focused on the Swiss market.

DZ Bank is Germany's largest cooperative bank. It did not disclose in its 2015 operations report the amount of assets held by its Swiss unit, but it is likely smaller than Notenstein.

The talks, which were reported earlier by Swiss finance website Inside Paradeplatz, are open-ended, Raiffeisen added.

The number of private banks in Switzerland fell to 117 as of July from 181 in 2005, according to KPMG, which expects this figure to drop below 100 in the next two years.

In addition to a crack-down on Swiss secrecy bank rules -- which resulted in billions of dollars in fines for banks -- many banks are being squeezed by increased regulatory and IT costs, as well as negative interest rates on deposits with the Swiss National Bank.

($1 = 0.9741 Swiss francs) (Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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