(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group has started a European lending business for its wealth-management clients and is seeking a $5 billion loan book within three years.

The service, reported by the Financial Times newspaper earlier, is available to Goldman Sachs’s 1,700 customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa this month, according to Sophie Ramsay, a company spokeswoman in London, who confirmed the contents of the report by telephone. Secured loans will be provided for items such as tax payments and expensive purchases.

Goldman Sachs, based in New York, is currently targeting its existing clients rather than new customers, said Christopher French, Goldman’s head of private wealth management in the region, according to the FT.

The move comes as some U.S. firms retreat from private banking in the region. Bank J. Safra Sarasin AG’s Swiss unit agreed to buy Morgan Stanley’s private-banking business in Switzerland in April, while Bank of America Corp. sold its non- U.S. Merrill Lynch wealth units to Julius Baer Group Ltd. in 2012.

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