Appleby acquires trust business from Coutts

Law and fiduciary firm Appleby has acquired Coutts’ trust businesses in the Cayman Islands and in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Cayman Islands business will become part of Appleby Trust (Cayman) Ltd. and will operate from Appleby’s Cayman office. The book in Geneva will become part of Appleby Trust in the Isle of Man.

Coutts employs 30 staff in Grand Cayman. Whether all of the employees will be taken over by Appleby is not yet certain. Appleby said the firm is in the process of finalizing the details of the transaction and discussing the positions with staff and as a result cannot confirm any specifics at present.

In 2012 Coutts, the private banking arm of Royal Bank of Scotland, sold its private banking business in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa with client assets worth more than US$2 billion to RBC Wealth Management. This included the bank’s private banking business in the Cayman Islands but the Cayman Islands trust business remained with Coutts.

In July 2013, Coutts announced its intention to sell its remaining trust business in the Cayman Islands amid a strategic review and the decision to divest itself of certain non-core trust businesses. Coutts now concentrates the firm’s international trust business in Jersey.

Martin Hall, managing director and head of Coutts’ International Trust Business said, “We see this transaction as a logical step in Coutts’ growth strategy, sharpening our focus on serving clients from key markets and investing substantially in our flagship Jersey trust company.”

Mr. Hall noted in July that concentrating the firm’s activity in Jersey was straightforward as it was already home to the largest of Coutts’s international trust businesses. The firm’s decision is “not really about jurisdictions per se,” he said, but mainly driven by the demand from clients and advisers.

“Our in-depth discussions with the Appleby team have confirmed that the two businesses have closely aligned values and Appleby will be able to provide our transferring clients with the high standards of service that they have come to expect from Coutts. The strength and quality of Appleby’s existing operation made them a natural fit for the business and we are confident that our clients will experience a positive transition into the Appleby Group,” Mr. Hall said.

For Appleby, the acquisition is part of the firm’s strategy to grow its fiduciary and administration business across multiple jurisdictions, said Farah Ballands, Appleby partner and global head of Fiduciary and Administration Services.

Richard McMillan, managing director of Appleby Trust (Cayman) Ltd., added that Appleby had looked for new opportunities to build on its existing trust business. “Coutts’s business in Cayman is a great fit with our own – Coutts adheres to the high standards of service our clients are used to,” he said. “We are committed to working to develop our position as an established and well-regarded business in the industry and are delighted to offer our clients increased resources and a broader choice.”

Sean Dowling, managing partner of Appleby Trust (Isle of Man) Ltd. noted that the addition of Coutts’s Geneva trust business to Appleby in the Isle of Man follows the recent acquisition of Caledonian’s Isle of Man trust company and fund administration arm. “We are pleased to be adding further strength to the trust administration services we can offer to our domestic and international clients,” he said.