Julius Baer could grow managed assets to more than 500 bln Sfr -CEO

ZURICH, July 24 (Reuters) - Julius Baer could grow its assets under management by more than 40 percent in the coming decade to over 500 billion Swiss francs ($528 billion), Chief Executive Boris Collardi said on Monday.

"I think Julius Baer could be easily in the next 10 years managing in excess of half a trillion," Collardi said in an interview with Reuters after the Swiss private bank reported first-half earnings.

Julius Baer reported its most successful six months in attracting new assets from wealthy clients since the financial crisis, bringing its assets under management to 355 billion francs.

The pace of growth pleased investors and Collardi said Julius Baer, Switzerland's third-largest private bank, could gain ground on number two bank Credit Suisse.

"If things go well for us, we could even close the gap further to our next competitor," he said.

At the end of the first quarter, Credit Suisse had around 715 billion francs in asset management for private clients.

In the first six months of 2017, Julius Baer's CET1 capital ratio, a measure of balance sheet strength, improved to 11.9 percent from 10.6 percent at the end of 2016.

Collardi said the bank was open to using its spare cash for acquisitions but, if there were no suitable targets, would be open to returning some of it to shareholders, possibly via a special dividend or a share buy-back.

"This is I think a question (which) will pose itself in the foreseeable future," Collardi said, adding Julius Baer might communicate its plans on this around February 2019.

"I think we should by then be in a situation where excessive capital will have reached very comfortable levels again," he said.

($1 = 0.9465 Swiss francs) (Editing by Mark Potter)