April 27, 2012 / 5:20 AM / 5 years ago

Rabobank eyes possible sale of fund management arm

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch lender Rabobank is reviewing options for its fund management arm, including a possible sale which could fetch as much as 2 billion euros as it strives to meet new capital rules aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

A spokesman for the cooperatively-owned bank said on Friday it was reviewing “strategic options” for fund management arm Robeco, confirming a Dutch media report, but declining to comment on any of the details.

Het Financieele Dagblad, citing unidentified sources, said the bank hoped to sell Robeco for between 1.5 and 2.0 billion euros and had appointed Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and JP Morgan (JPM.N) as advisers.

Rabobank RABO.UL, the largest retail bank in the Netherlands, is working on a “strategic reorientation” for the next four years and looking at the capital requirements of its businesses as it, like other banks, has to comply with new rules known as Basel III, the paper said.

As a result, it is also reviewing subsidiaries including mortgage intermediary Obvion, car lease company De Lage Landen, and property unit Rabo Vastgoed, the paper said.

The spokesman declined to comment on plans for these businesses.

Rabobank lost its triple-A credit rating from Standard & Poor’s last year as the agency changed its ratings system.

But unlike its main Dutch rivals ABN AMRO ABNNV.UL and ING Groep ING.AS, it did not need state aid during the 2008 credit crisis, and did not make a loss during that period.

However, it has already started a reorganization of its businesses, selling its majority stake in private Swiss bank Sarasin BSAN.S for 1.04 billion Swiss francs ($1.15 billion) to global private banking group Safra in November.

Robeco, which had 150.3 billion euros in assets under management at the end of 2011, sells a range of investment products to Rabobank and other banks.

Rabobank has its roots in the Dutch farming sector. It said in March its international operations would focus on providing banking services to the food and agricultural industry.

Dutch privately owned Friesland Bank FRIBK.UL, which was rescued when Rabobank bought it earlier this month, on Friday reported a net loss of 350 million euros ($463 million) in 2011 due to writedowns on several assets.

($1 = 0.9082 Swiss francs)

Editing by Mark Potter

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