Julius Baer

A year ago Philipp Rickenbacher, then the chief executive officer of Julius Baer told his wealthy customers that the 133-year-old institution’s balance sheet was “rock solid” and adhered “to the highest risk-management standards,” 

As he penned his missive, Baer was sitting on some $700 million in exposure to a single, soon-to-be-bankrupt client: Austrian real estate tycoon Rene Benko. 

When Benko’s empire of luxury department stores and posh hotels crumbled last year, so did Rickenbacher’s credibility. The bank announced his departure on Feb. 1.

Today, the bank oversees 430 billion Swiss francs ($485 billion) in client assets.

Baer’s travails have only intensified the nagging suspicion in Zurich that something is awry in Swiss finance, leaving regulators wondering what else they might be missing. 

Bloomberg 20 March 2024 


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