Three bids are on the table for Rabobank arm

City A.M. Reporter
DUTCH bank Rabobank is weighing three offers for its asset management arm Robeco, facing a choice between bids to split the €2bn-plus (£1.6bn) business or sell it in one piece, people familiar with the situation said.

The Netherlands’ largest retail bank received bids from a private equity consortium of Advent International and CVC, and from Japanese financial services group Orix for the asset management unit.

It received a third bid from Boston-based asset manager AMG, which in partnership with buyout firm Permira wants to split up the business that spans Europe and the US, the people said.

Rabobank is in talks with various bidders and is evaluating the offers, one source said.

The cooperative bank, which is returning to its roots lending to Dutch farmers, put Robeco up for sale early this year after it lost its triple-A credit rating from Standard & Poor’s and sought to prepare for stricter capital rules for European banks.

Australian bank Macquarie remains interested in the business but it is unclear whether it made a formal bid, some of the people said.

Initially valued at less than €2bn, price expectations have soared, with one source saying the firm could fetch as much as €3bn.

The high price prompted some of the bidders to team up to buy Robeco in what remains a challenging market for M&A in Europe.

The length of time taken to get to this stage in the bidding has frustrated some who felt rushed into preparing throughout August for bids in mid-September.

Rabobank has told prospective buyers that it wants to sell the business whole, people familiar with the process have said.

Robeco had €186bn of assets under management at the end of July, more than twice the size of Dexia Asset Management.

Rabobank and Robeco declined to comment. The named bidders also declined to comment or were unavailable for comment.