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Rothschilds buy into Rockefeller wealth business

People skate on the ice beneath the gilded statue of Prometheus in Rockefeller Center in New York, October 12, 2009.

MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

Two of the most glamorous names in global finance are linking up, with the Rothschild banking dynasty agreeing to buy a stake in the Rockefeller group's wealth and asset management business to get a long-sought foothold in the United States.

Rothschild's London-listed RIT Capital Partners said on Wednesday it was buying the 37-per-cent stake from French group Société Générale SA's private banking arm for an undisclosed sum.

The transatlantic union brings together David Rockefeller, 96, and Jacob Rothschild, 76 – two family patriarchs whose personal relationship spans five decades.

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Rockefeller & Co. traces its origins back to 1882 when it was founded as one of the world's first family offices by John D. Rockefeller to manage his personal wealth.

Since then it has developed into a wealth advisory group administering assets of $34-billion (U.S.).

The Rothschild banking dynasty began when Mayer Amschel Rothschild started a business in Frankfurt in the late 18th century.

The family has worked on some epochal deals during its history, such as helping finance Britain's war against Napoleon in the 19th century and raising funds for a loan allowing the British government to buy the Suez canal.

RIT and another of the family's companies, Edmond de Rothschild Group, said earlier this year they would form a new joint venture to boost their fund management and investment operations.

SocGen, which has held the stake in the Rockefeller wealth and asset management operation since 2008, appointed a new head of private banking in March, replacing Daniel Truchi with Jean-Francois Mazaud as it moved to overhaul the business.

Banks across the world are shedding non-core assets to reduce their risks and strengthen their capital positions to meet tough regulations aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

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The deal is expected to close by the end of September.

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