Singapore has built up a stake of about 3% in Julius Baer Group, providing a major boost for a Swiss wealth manager that's focused on wooing wealthy Asians.
The acquisition through sovereign wealth fund GIC will come as a relief for CEO Bernhard Hodler after Julius Baer's stock fell the most among Switzerland's biggest companies last year. The stock rose Tuesday as much as 3.4%.
GIC has been building up its stake over time and only just now crossed the reporting threshold, according to two people familiar with the matter. Listed companies in Switzerland must to disclose shareholdings when they exceed 3%.
After a decade of rapid expansion, Mr. Hodler is under pressure to maintain the pace of growth even as he pushes through cost cuts and purges riskier accounts. Last month, the bank reported new client money that fell short of its targets.
Julius Baer has put together a shortlist of both internal and external candidates to replace Mr. Hodler as CEO, and may make a decision by the third quarter, according to people familiar with the matter. The bank's former risk chief took the role at the end of 2017 after predecessor Boris Collardi was hired by rival Banque Pictet & Cie.
It's not the first time GIC has invested in Swiss banks. The fund purchased debt in UBS Group early in the financial crisis and became the bank's biggest shareholder when the debt was converted into stock. Stung by the investment, GIC then cut its ownership by almost half two years ago, saying it was "disappointed" that it lost money.
A GIC spokeswoman declined to comment on the Julius Baer stake beyond the regulatory disclosure.