Rabobank looking at “strategic options” for fund arm Robeco

Bank mulling future of responsible investment subsidiary

Rabobank has confirmed it is looking at the “strategic options” for its fund management arm Robeco following reports in the Dutch press that the division is up for sale.

A report in Het Financieele Dagblad quoted unnamed investment banking sources as saying that Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan have been hired to organise the sale, estimated at up to €2bn.

“Rabobank confirms that it is currently considering strategic options regarding Robeco,” a Rabobank spokesman told Responsible Investor.
Robeco is a leading responsible investment asset manager that owns the SAM sustainability boutique.

The news has caught the market off-guard. “The report also took me by surprise,” said a manager at ING Investment Management in the Netherlands, who asked not to be named. “On the other hand, it’s just part of the consolidation we’re seeing in the European fund industry right now.” It comes as Germany’s Deutsche Bank is currently in the process of selling a large part of its asset management business.

Robeco, founded in Rotterdam in 1929, has €150bn in assets under management. It is headed by RoderickMunsters, the former Chief Investment Officer of Dutch pension fund giant APG.
It is one of the leading European advocates of responsible investing, integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into its investment process. It makes active use of its voting rights and dialogue with companies.
Robeco first bought into Zurich-based sustainability boutique SAM in 2006 and is currently sole owner.
The report said Rabobank, which lost its Standard & Poor’s AAA rating last year, would use the proceeds to shore up its capital as part of a “strategic reorientation”.
Late last year co-operatively owned Rabobank sold its controlling stake in Swiss private bank Sarasin & Cie to the Safra Group for more than CHF1bn (€832m).
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has reported that several private equity firms have made bids for Dexia Asset Management in the first round of an auction by its troubled Franco-Belgian bank parent. The Journal said they included Permira, Bain Capital, Advent International and CVC Capital Partners.
Additional reporting by Jan Wagner