October 4, 2011 / 5:41 PM / 9 years ago

DealTalk: Governments to let curtain fall on Dexia

LONDON (Reuters) - Struggling Dexia DEXI.BR may resurrect 2008’s abandoned break-up plan, isolating toxic assets in a bad bank and selling or nationalizing the rest, four sources working on the current rescue plan said.

The logo of Belgian-French financial services group Dexia is seen on a building in central Brussels September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The move will likely lead to the disposal of the Turkish retail bank, the wealth management business, the asset management businesses and Dexia’s joint venture with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), raising billions of euros, according to analysts.

“The emergency was to obtain guarantees from the government because Dexia could not carry on this way,” one of the sources said.

“The governments will now seek compensations through nationalizations or asset disposals,” the source added.

The plans under discussion recall the break-up plan that was first outlined in 2008 before Dexia received an initial 6 billion euro ($8 billion) bail-out.

The previous carve-up ultimately was not carried out because politicians considered it too sensitive, a second banker said.

This time, with Dexia on the brink of collapse, asset sales are unavoidable, the sources said.

French lender Dexma could emerge as the first casualty of the break-up as Dexia’s management is in advanced talks to sell it to French state bank CDC and Postal Bank.

Dexma’s parent company Credit Local, which comprises all the toxic assets, will be isolated in a newly created “bad bank,” the sources said.

A sale of Dexma, which lends to French municipalities, could raise about 400 million euros, assuming a 0.5 times book value multiple, according to a Morgan Stanley (MS.N) research note.

Dexma has a total of 80 billion euros of assets funded through a covered bond program, the note said.

Next on the list will be Turkey’s Denizbank DENIZ.IS, the Luxembourg-based private bank and the asset management arm, which would all likely be sold at auction when state guarantees are in place and market conditions improve, the sources said.

“Dexia’s nearest priority is how to re-allocate assets against its local government lending arm and its sovereign debt portfolios,” said a source with direct knowledge of the proceedings.

“Disposals will follow at a later stage. But finding buyers at the moment would be quite tricky,” the source added.

A London-based analyst said selling anything belonging to Dexia to an industry rival could be challenging.

“The two saleable assets are their Turkish business and to a lesser extent their joint venture with RBC, their custody business.”

Denizbank and the Luxembourg-based private banking activities, the two jewels of the crown, will likely be sold in an auction, the first source said.

Denizbank has a loan book of 11 billion euros and could fetch between 2.7 billion and 4 billion assuming a price to earnings multiple of 8-12, Morgan Stanley said.

The asset could lure domestic rivals as well as cash-rich banks in Russia and Eastern Europe and global players, bankers said.

HSBC (HSBA.L) has signaled plans to grow in Turkey, and new CEO Stuart Gulliver said at a strategy day in May that it was a key growth area and it wants to grow there, in contrast to its pullback from most other markets.

Dexia’s Turkish business may not be the only such asset on the market. National Bank of Greece (NBGr.AT), also short of capital and facing big losses on its domestic bonds, may sell Finansbank FINBN.IS, which is also regarded as a good business.

Dexia’s private banking business, which specializes in taxation optimization, asset structuring and investment advice, could be worth between 1 billion and 1.7 billion euros, assuming a 7-11 price-to-earning multiple, the Morgan Stanley analyst said.

Barclays (BARC.L) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) could be interested if the asset came on the market, analysts said.

The asset management activities could also come on the block and lure quite a lot of appetite from private equity firms, bankers and analysts said.

Some or all of Dexia’s Belgian retail banking operations could be merged with a peer such as KBC or ING or alternatively nationalized, two of the sources said.

“The idea of a big Belgian bank is on the table. It is being discussed,” the first person said, adding that there was no guarantee that EU regulators would allow such a move.

In Belgium, Dexia has retail banking, government finance and insurance businesses, which equate to 250 billion euros of assets and could be worth between 1.6 billion and 2.8 billion euros, assuming a 5-10 price-earning multiple, according to Morgan Stanley.

($1 = 0.753 Euros)

Additional reporting by Steve Slater and Christian Plumb; Editing by Will Waterman

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