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Eureko sale latest blow for F&C

NETHERLANDS/UK - Dutch insurance giant Eureko is selling some of its shares in F&C Asset Management to finance a push into Central Europe and Turkey, the company has announced.

It is the latest blow for the asset manager F&C, whose shares came under pressure as Eureko, one of F&C's major shareholder announced the sale of 44m shares, or 9.1% of the fund manager, this morning.

Eureko, which owns Achmea and Interpolis in the Netherlands, currently holds 19.6% of the asset manager's shares. Today's value of the 44m shares would correspond to around £80m (€117m).

Eureko said in a statement yesterday the sale is driven by its strategic focus on development in Central and Eastern Europe and the need to re-allocate some of its capital to further expansion into those markets.

Money realised from the sale of F&C shares will help fund the recently-announced acquisition of insurance businesses in Turkey, from Garanti Bank, it added.

However, Eureko, advised by Morgan Stanley, was adamant there would be no change to investment management mandates with F&C.

"There will be no change to the investment management contracts with Eureko Group companies, which are subject to long-term mandates," the company said.

"These mandates run at least until 2014 and operate well. Eureko remains a key investor in F&C and is currently its second-largest shareholder," it added.

There will now be a lock-in of 12 months for the remaining F&C shares retained by Eureko, subject to certain exceptions.

It is the latest blow for the asset manager who has already had a tough year. It cut its dividend in January after a number of investors cancelled investment briefs.

Elsewhere, Citigroup has expressed interest in acquire a 19.5% share in Nordea, the Nordic region's largest financial services group.

During last September's Swedish general election campaign, the winning coalition pledged once in government it would sell off the state's 19.9% stake in Nordea.

Since then, there have been merger rumours associating Nrodea with SEB AB, the third largest in the Nordic region, while several hedge funds and private equity funds are said to have contacted the Nordic firm to acquire a stake.

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