February 19, 2013 / 9:02 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Japan's Orix agrees to buy Rabobank arm for $2.5 billion

* Orix says has more room for acquisition after Robeco

* Rabobank will own about 2 percent of Orix after deal (Adds company comments)

By Taiga Uranaka and Emi Emoto

TOKYO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Japanese financial services firm Orix Corp said on Tuesday it has agreed to buy Dutch asset manager Robeco from its owner, Rabobank, for 1.935 billion euros ($2.58 billion) in a cash-and-stock deal.

The acquisition is the biggest ever by Orix, a diversified financial services company with businesses ranging from leasing, life insurance, real estate and corporate lending to a professional baseball team.

“By acquiring a global brand company (like) Robeco, we made a big step forward in building a balanced business model as a financial services company,” said Yoshihiko Miyauchi, chairman and CEO of Orix, at a news conference in Tokyo.

Under the deal, Orix will pay Rabobank in cash and its own stock and it will not issue new shares for the deal. As the result of the transaction, Rabobank will own around 2 percent of the Japanese company’s shares.

Rabobank will retain an equity stake of about 9.99 percent in Robeco.

Orix said about a year ago that 300 billion yen ($3.19 billion) was the maximum the company was able to spend on investments. Miyauchi said today though that Orix has a lot more capacity.

“It’s not that our stomach is full with this acquisition. We can still consider a relatively large deal,” he said.

With little exposure to Europe’s troubled economies, Japanese financial companies, such as banks and life insurance companies, are taking advantage of their relatively strong balance sheets to snap up assets from European rivals.

Orix’s latest deal follows the move by Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Japan’s third-largest lender by assets, which purchased an aircraft leasing business from RBS for $7.3 billion last year.

Rabobank, a Dutch cooperative bank that is returning to its roots lending to local farmers, said last April it was reviewing strategic options for Robeco after it lost its triple-A credit rating from Standard & Poor’s in November 2011.

Piet Moerland, chairman of Rabobank, said at the news conference that the Robeco sale was part of a strategic review to focus on its core businesses such as food and agriculture finance in the Netherlands, Asia, Brazil and the United States.

Rabobank, the largest retail bank in the Netherlands, sold its majority stake in private Swiss bank Sarasin for 1.04 billion Swiss francs ($1.13 billion) in 2011.

($1 = 0.7490 euros)

($1 = 0.9233 Swiss francs)

($1 = 93.9900 Japanese yen)

Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Writing by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Shinichi Saoshiro and Matt Driskill

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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