September 2, 2019 / 2:07 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Julius Baer's Kairos plots potential Italian acquisitions

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MILAN, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Julius Baer's European head said on Monday that the Swiss bank's Italian subsidiary Kairos Investment Management will look at potential acquisitions in Italy.

Switzerland's third-largest listed bank said in July it was considering options including the sale of Kairos, which it had put under strategic review after poor fund performances in 2018 triggered outflows.

But Julius Baer said on Friday it had decided to keep Kairos, which Italian investment bank Mediobanca had looked at as a potential target but decided against acquiring last week, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

"There is a consolidation in Italy. In the past we made acquisitions, including Kairos, therefore we will look at other companies," Baer's European head Yves Robert-Charrue said.

Baer also plans to hire people in Italy with the aim to bring the number of Kairos employees to 200 from 150 now, Robert-Charrue told a press conference in Milan.

The Swiss lender decided to keep Kairos because it realized that the Italian unit was "a fantastic business" and Italy was "a key strategic market", the manager said, adding he was not concerned by Italian political turmoil.

Kairos' assets under management have more than doubled to over 9 billion euros ($10 billion) since the start of the partnership with Julius Baer in June 2013.

But it remains a small player in Italy, where the market is dominated by Generali and Intesa Sanpaolo's Eurizon with 480 billion euros and 300 billion euros of assets under managements respectively.

"Kairos will be run as an independent entity" and its role within Julius Baer "will be more important," he said, adding that "several employees" will become shareholders of the Italian company with a "significant minority stake". ($1 = 0.8973 euros) (Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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