J. Safra Sarasin
Number of employees
The Bank J. Safra Sarasin Ltd (previously named "Bank Sarasin & Co. Ltd", until 2013) is a Swiss private bank, founded in 1841 and headquartered in Basel. It is currently owned by the Brazilian Safra Group, and was formed in its present state in 2013, when Safra Group acquired Bank Sarasin & Co. Ltd, merging it with its Bank Jacob Safra Switzerland subsidiary.
J. Safra Sarasin performs investment advice and asset management for private and institutional clients, as well as investment funds. It offers further services in investment, corporate finance and financial analysis.
In addition to its headquarters in Basel, the J. Safra Sarasin Group has offices in Bern, Geneva, Lugano, Lucerne, Zurich, Doha, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hamburg, Hanover, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Monaco, Munich, Nassau, Panama, Poznan, Singapore, Stuttgart and Warsaw.
The company was formerly listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange from 1987 to 2013.
As of 2014, the J. Safra Sarasin Group managed CHF 147.4 billion in assets.
Founded on 20 February 1841 as Riggenbach & Cie by Johannes Riggenbach-Huber, son of a worker of a tape factory from Basel who had risen to partner within Bank Ehinger & Cie. The company was originally devoted to trade, shipping and banking. After two years, his son Frederick Riggenbach joined the business, which he directed after Johannes Riggenbach's death in 1860. By 1876, the bank had thrived and entered trading at the Basel Stock Exchange.
On 1 January 1900, Alfred Sarasin-Iselin purchased the company from Fritz Riggenbach and founded the general partnership A. Sarasin & Cie with Arthur Streichenberg-Mylius, giving the establishment its name of Sarasin. Under this leadership, Bank Sarasin developed into one of the most prestigious and longest-established private banks in the Swiss financial market.
From 1954 to 2005, Emanuel Sarasin, grandson of Alfred Sarasin-Iselin, directed the bank. He was also president of the Swiss Bankers Association from 1965 to 1986. In 1987, the company became a Private company limited by shares, under the name Bank Sarasin & Cie. In 2002, it converted into a Joint-stock company, with the Dutch group Rabo taking a share and options to purchase more; it exercised these options in late 2006, by then holding 46.1 percents of the capital and 68.6 of the votes. Rabobank Switzerland was itself purchased by Safra on 25 November 2011.
On 3 January 2012, Sarasin announced that customer data had been illegally passed to third parties by one of its employees, notably affecting the family of Philipp Hildebrand, then President of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank. Dismissed by the bank, the employee, who had worked in its IT department, surrendered himself to the police. Sarasin filed a further criminal complaint against a third party. The leaked documents would play a key role in the Hildebrand Affair and his own eventual dismissal.
By late June 2012, Safra Holding already held 50.15% of the share capital and 71.01% of the votes; in October 2012, Safra had acquired further shares through a public offer, and had 99.47% of the votes. Safra then cancelled the remaining shares held by the public in April 2013, delisting the bank from the SIX Swiss Exchange. As part of the merger between Bank Sarasin and Bank Jacob Safra Switzerland into Bank J. Safra Sarasin AG, the bank announced on 27 May 2013 that Edmond Michaan, former managing director of Bank Jacob Safra, would replace Joachim H. Straehle as CEO of Sarasin.