Vontobel Group moves into hedge funds market with Harcourt stake

Swiss private bank Vontobel Holding AG is acquiring NIB Capital NV's 56 per cent holding in Zurich-based Harcourt Investment Consulting AG.


Harcourt, a recognized provider of multi-hedge fund solutions to international institutions, will become the centre of competence for the Vontobel Group with regard to the provision of multi-hedge and fund of hedge fund solutions.


Philipp Cottier, Chief Executive Officer of Harcourt, said: "Vontobel and Harcourt are an excellent strategic fit. Given both our established brand names and Harcourt's track record as a leader in the institutional fund of hedge fund market, our products and clients will benefit from the significant corporate backing of Vontobel. We are very enthusiastic and looking forward to working with the team at Vontobel, and accelerating our plans to become a market leader in the industry."


Harcourt's Management Team will maintain autonomy over the business including operational and investment decisions and Harcourt will be run as a separate brand. Harcourt's management and employees will continue to be shareholders of the company.


Harcourt Investment Consulting AG is a leading provider of multi-hedge fund advisory and portfolio management services to a blue chip institutional client base. Founded in 1997, the firm is headquartered in Zurich, with offices in New York, Stockholm, Bridgetown, Madrid and Geneva as well as Hong Kong as of the second quarter of 2006. With a staff of over 60 and assets under management exceeding USD 3.1 bn, Harcourt focuses exclusively on hedge
funds and has a developed a  strong track record of delivering risk-adjusted returns.


Vontobel Group is an internationally-oriented Swiss private bank which was founded in 1924 and is headquartered in Zurich. Vontobel specializes in asset management for sophisticated private and institutional clients, as well as partners. It serves its clients via three business units: Private Banking, Investment Banking and Asset Management & Investment Funds. As
at June 30, 2005, the Group reported CHF 52.9 bn of assets under management and managed CHF 13.4 bn of custody assets. It employs 915 employees worldwide. Vontobel's registered shares (VONN) are listed in Switzerland on the SWX Swiss Exchange. The Vontobel family and the Vontobel Foundation hold the majority of shares and votes in the company.


The addition of Harcourt to Vontobel is part of its plans to expand in the fast growing alternative investments arena. It broadens Vontobel's product offering and strengthens its existing specialist investments capabilities, allowing it to provide quality investment products to its institutional and private clients.


The growing investor interest from institutions and high net worth individuals in achieving greater diversification through exposure to alternative investments is set to continue as investors come to appreciate the attractive risk/reward characteristics of these products.


Herbert Scheidt, Chief Executive Officer of Vontobel, said: "As an internationally renowned supplier of hedge fund solutions that are geared towards generating long-term client value, Harcourt ideally complements Vontobel in the field of actively managed specialty products. As a result of this majority holding, our institutional clients will profit from Harcourt's first-class research and portfolio management capabilities. Moreover, our private clients will gain access to a broad, first-rate range of products in an ever more important asset class."


NIB Capital is an independent private Merchant Bank focusing on the mid-market segment in Northwest Europe with a global distribution network. NIB Capital's business model as a Merchant Bank is aimed at offering innovative corporate finance, risk management and structured investment solutions. Its clients are corporates, financial institutions, institutional investors and family offices. The bank has branches in The Hague, London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Greenwich (US), Singapore and Curaçao, as well as representations through strategic partnerships in New York and Zurich.


Michael Enthoven, Chief Executive Officer of NIB Capital, said: "Our relationship with Harcourt has been very fruitful and successful. We wish Harcourt all the very best in its future with its new strategic partner as it goes on to its next stage of development."


Putnam Lovell NBF Securities Inc. acted as exclusive financial advisor for Harcourt.


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