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Banking empire of Greek billionaire takes a knock

The first half results of Swiss private bank EFG International has dented the performance of a banking empire run by Greece's richest man, Spiro Latsis.
 
Zurich-based EFG International revealed this week that it had to write down SFr860 million in an ill-timed purchase of a hedge fund group, Marble Bar Asset Management. The write-offs pushed the bank into a loss of around SFr800 million for the first half of 2010, compared with net profit of SFr20 million in the same period a year before.
 
MBAM was bought at the end of 2007 for around $500 million, but suffered massive redemptions during the financial crisis.
 
EFG International is owned by EFG Bank European Financial Group, in which the Latsis family is the biggest shareholder. The group's other big holding is Greek-based bank EFG Eurobank, which recorded a big fall in profits in 2009 against the background of widespread economic difficulties in Greece.
 
Spiro Latsis' fortune was estimated at $5.3 billion by Forbes earlier this year, compared with $3.8 billion the year before. But his wealth has virtually halved since 2006 when he was estimated by the US publication to have a fortune of $9.1 billion.

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