NETHERLANDS -The Dutch private merchant bank NIBCapital is reportedly in discussions regarding a take-over from US investment company Cerberus Capital Management.

Earlier this year GE Capital and insurer Fortis made a take-over bid for NIBCapital, which is jointly owned by the two largest Dutch pension funds: civil service scheme ABP and healthcare scheme PGGM. It has assets of €25bn.

Het Financieele Dagblad, which quotes ‘sources close to the talks’, said Cerberus is planning to use NIBCapital for extending its investment portfolio in Europe. Both NIBCapital and Cerberus Capital Management declined to comment.

Cerberus is a New York-based investor with assets under management of $16bn. It mainly operates as a hedge fund with a strategy of acquiring companies near collapse.

According to the Dutch financial daily, Cerberus bought debt of MCI Worldcom and converted it into equity. The holdings of Cerberus include a 49% stake in Japanese bank Aozora, the former Nippon Credit bank, and the US Tech firms ICG Communications, SSA Global Technologies and cable operator Galaxy Cable.

Cerberus has large interests as a long-term investor as well. It bought the Dutch software firm Baan in 2003. Recently it acquired the Dutch-based aircraft lease group Debis AirFinance from Daimler/Chrysler and a consortium of German banks.

NIBCapital hired Goldman Sachs in November to investigate – as part of a strategic review - the possibility of a stock market flotation or a merger.