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Julius Baer, EFG stopped takeover talks after initial approach, sources say

A logo is pictured on the branch of the Swiss private bank Julius Baer in Lausanne

By Oliver Hirt and Jesús Aguado

ZURICH/MADRID (Reuters) -Swiss private bank Julius Baer held talks with EFG International about a potential takeover in recent months but the discussions have stopped, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The two Swiss banks were in talks around the time Julius Baer ousted its chief executive officer Philipp Rickenbacher in February, after losses on loans to failed property firm Signa, the people said.

Julius Baer considered EFG's CEO Giorgio Pradelli as a potential head of a combined entity as part of the takeover deliberations, the people said.

However, the banks have recently stopped talking, the people said. Reuters could not establish the reason for the talks halting. Julius Baer is focusing on appointing a permanent CEO, a process which will likely take more time, one of the people and a third person said.

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It was unclear whether Pradelli is still under consideration for the Julius Baer role, the people said.

Spokespeople for the two companies declined to comment.

Bloomberg News earlier on Friday reported that Julius Baer is exploring a potential acquisition of EFG, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

EFG has a market value of about 3.8 billion Swiss francs ($4.16 billion) while Julius Baer is valued at about 11.5 billion francs.

Strategically, a combination is questionable, RBC analysts wrote in a note to clients. Baer has been investing and the additional challenge of integrating EFG would raise questions, the analysts wrote.

Culturally there are also likely to be some differences in the private banking franchise, the analysts said.

"Including synergies we calculate that a deal could be EPS neutral by 2026," said the note.

($1 = 0.9140 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Oliver Hirt in Zurich and Jesus Aguado in Madrid. Additional reporting by Stefania Spezzati. Editing by Anousha Sakoui and Elisa Martinuzzi)