NETHERLANDS – Achmea and AXA have sold their 50% stake in Dutch asset manager Finles to the firm’s co-CEOs for an undisclosed amount.

According to Finles chief executive Rob van Kuijk, the 50% stake was bought below market value in an internal deal.

“We are very happy,” he told IPE, saying they acquired the stake at “a very good price”.

Van Kuijk and his partner Hans van der Holst stated Achmea and AXA no longer regarded Finles as a “core” part of their businesses.

This freed the company “to develop absolute return investment strategies, which are under-represented among Dutch institutional and private investors relative to other markets such as the US and UK”, said a release.

According to the €250m Finles, this move has paved the way “for a big expansion in wealth and fund management”.

It plans to grow its assets to more than a €1bn over three years against the backdrop of its May/June launch of the Star Selector Fund – the first multi-manager hedge fund in the Netherlands with performance-based fees and no fixed management fees.

“Our clients see us as trendsetters. We want to remain a total financial services business, but with the emphasis on fund management and wealth management,” said van Kuijk.

The insurance and banking parts of the business need to be “rationalised” due to market changes in the Netherlands, he added.

Van Kuijk stated that the number of employees at Finles would grow proportionally to the firm’s growth.

He added that in the past, Finles was mainly seen as a Dutch company. However, the appointment of former Attica Investment Management’s Anthony Robinson in the UK as strategy manager is an indication of the firm’s movement into wider markets.

Van Kuijk, 47, joined Finles from insurer Delta Lloyd in 1994. He heads investment strategy, while van der Horst, 51, manages the finances and operational structure. Van der Horst was formerly head of sales at Dutch insurer UAP – subsequently acquired by AXA. He also joined Finles in 1994.