Private equity firm RHJI says determined to buy Deutsche's BHF

FRANKFURT, March 28 Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:08pm EDT

FRANKFURT, March 28 (Reuters) - Private equity firm RHJ International said it was determined to win regulatory approval for its takeover of Deutsche Bank unit BHF-Bank, a deal initially rejected by German watchdog Bafin.

Bafin delayed its approval of Brussels-based RHJI's purchase of BHF from Deutsche a year ago due to funding concerns, and said it needed additional information before it could give the green light.

The regulator had been concerned about whether BHF, which has an investment banking and wealth management unit, would be able to refinance itself on a stand-alone basis, sources close to Bafin have said in the past.

"The process has taken much longer than anticipated. This is due to a very significantly changed regulatory environment," RHJI Chief Executive Officer Leonhard Fischer said in a conference call, adding that the missing documentation had been submitted.

"We have no intention to walk away from the transaction," Fischer added on Thursday.

A Bafin spokesman said it was still evaluating whether the documentation submitted by RHJI was complete - an issue that has delayed a possible approval for months.

Deutsche Bank put BHF up for sale in 2010, almost immediately after inheriting it with its 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) purchase of Sal. Oppenheim.

But the sale proved tough as Bafin blocked Deutsche's first attempt in April 2011 for a sale to LGT, a bank owned by the royal family of Liechtenstein, saying it was concerned about the "trustworthiness of the buyer". The subsequent agreement with RHJI also hit regulatory snags.

To improve its funding situation, RHJI announced in September it had assembled a consortium to bid for BHF, including China's Fosun Group, BMW heir Stefan Quandt, and funds controlled by U.S. investor Timothy C. Collins and Blackrock.

Analysts estimate that selling BHF will reduce Deutsche's risk-weighted assets by about 2 billion euros and result in capital gains of around 75 million euros. ($1 = 0.7824 euros) (Reporting By Edward Taylor; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

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