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Belgian bank set to make loss selling off its British brokerage

BELGIAN bank KBC has put its London brokerage and corporate finance house, KBC Peel Hunt, up for sale.<br /><br />The struggling bank has had to borrow around &euro;7bn (&pound;6.3bn) from the Belgian government, and is now likely to make a huge loss on its investment by selling the brokerage.<br /><br />KBC bought Peel Hunt in a deal valuing the company at &pound;218.5m after it was floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 2000. The chances of selling now for a fee even close to that figure are thought to be very slim.<br /><br />A likely resolution might be a management buyout led by chief executive Simon Hayes, although rival brokerages such as Collins Stewart are also believed to be interested in the business.<br /><br />KBC&rsquo;s Irish retail banking operation would be likely to go next should the Belgian bank look to sell off any further assets.<br /><br />The bank is due to submit a report on strategic review to the European Commission by the end of the month. <br /><br />A spokeswoman for the company said the review was ongoing, and that in the meantime any &ldquo;rumour or speculation is very premature&rdquo;.