* Venture to focus on European bank, insurance deals -source
* Deals will be at least 300 mln eur -source
By Simon Meads
LONDON, Oct 3 Blackstone has set up a joint venture with mid-sized rival Anacap to hunt for private equity deals in Europe's embattled banking sector, a person familiar with the situation said.
The venture between the New York-listed private equity powerhouse and financial services specialist Anacap will target banking and insurance deals in areas including consumer and corporate lending.
Private equity houses are increasingly targeting the financial services sector as the prospect of strict regulation forces banks to shed non-core divisions and portfolios of loans and other assets.
Together, Blackstone and Anacap are looking to spend at least 300 million euros ($388.05 million), the person added.
Blackstone has a long track record of investing in financial services in the United States, but has found it more difficult to find banking investments in Europe.
The firm considered backing a new banking start-up in 2010 but the bank was never established.
By joining forces with Anacap, led by the former heads of General Motors' British finance arm, Blackstone will be hoping to tap the firm's experience in the sector and its access to new deals.
Anacap was the first private equity house to invest in a British bank, buying Ruffler Bank in 2009. It has since renamed it Aldermore and focuses on mortgages and lending to small and medium sized businesses.
It also owns consumer debt business Cabot and Czech retail banking group Equabank.