Spains Santander Bank To Acquire Coutts Internationals Miami Division
By Frank Norton
Spanish giant Banco Santander Central Hispano is in final stages of buying Coutts International’s Latin American private banking division, local banking experts say.
The move underscores Santander’s long-term commitment to wealth management in Latin America and Miami, said Alberto Valdes, Florida International Bankers Association president.
"Banco Santander has a strong presence in Latin America and this reinforces their ability to do private banking and wealth management throughout the region," he said.
He was aware of Santander’s acquisition plans, which he said would roughly double its Miami private banking presence.
Santander’s three Miami locations are based at 1401 Brickell Ave. It is the leading financial institution in Latin America and one of the world’s 20 largest banks.
A Santander spokesperson at Madrid headquarters wouldn’t comment on an acquisition, but Mr. Valdez and other local experts said the deal would be sizable.
Coutts International has 130 employees and $2.3 billion in assets in Miami, a London spokeswoman said.
"It’s a good strategic move and it doesn’t surprise me," said J. Antonio Villamil, who heads the Washington Economics Group in Coral Gables. "Spanish banks are long-term players in Latin America and private banking is a key niche for growth."
The private banking arm of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Coutts once operated in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego before focusing in 1997 on European and Asian markets. The Miami division at 701 Brickell Ave. is its last in the US.
"I wish it were a bank coming to Miami rather than leaving," said Dennis Nason of Nason & Nason Executive Search Consultants. "Typically, mergers are done to gain efficiency, and that usually means fewer employees."