Private Bank finds synergy in public bar

October 6, 2009

It is a little known fact that private bank Wegelin, Switzerland’s oldest bank is also active in the bars and restaurants business.

In its ‘Nonolet’ bars – a play on the Latin saying pecunia non olet (money doesn’t stink) – in St. Gallen and in Geneva, hedge fund managers and other financial professionals rub shoulders with other locals in the early evening over sparkling wine or champagne and snacks.

It may sound an odd sort of diversification, but Wegelin says there were forced to try a new line of business to ensure an upmarket crowd mingled on the ground floor of the Wegelin building.

“You cannot have a strange business there like a kebab shop,” said Wegelin partner Christian Raubach.

Wegelin was forced to launch a hostile takeover on a local bar which had attracted a lot of unruly drinkers near its St. Gallen branch office.

“We bought the bar, we fired the owners, and we put a nice Café in so we get a different crowd. The crowd that sits during the day drinking coffee and not vomiting drinking beer at night,” Raubach said.

The operation proved to be a success but is unlikely to develop in to a brand new business area.

“Everybody thinks Nonolet is probably very profitable..let me tell you private banking is a much better business,” Raubach says.

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