NETHERLANDS – NIB Capital, the bank co-owned by the two largest Dutch pension funds, has declined to comment on a newspaper report that a Belgian joint venture has lost millions of euros in options trading.

Dutch daily Financieele Dagblad said irregularities have been discovered at a Belgian joint venture of the bank, which is 50:50 owned by civil service scheme ABP and health care fund PGGM.

The losses at NIBC Petercam Derivatives could hamper the schemes’ plans to sell NIB Capital.

The losses are reportedly between €20m and €50m. According to the daily, the exact damage will depend on the settlement of the option contracts. So far it is not clear whether the losses have been caused by fraud or by too risky positions.

A spokesman of NIB Capital, which made a profit of €175m last year, declined to comment.

“We are working on a new structure at NIBC Petercam Derivatives. Further announcements will be issued next week,” he said. A spokesman for parent company Petercam also refused to comment.

It is not yet clear what part of the losses NIB Capital will take. Its annual report of 2004 states that the bank will guarantee the liabilities from the derivatives contracts of the Belgian joint venture.

The financial watchdog, the Dutch central bank, or DNB, has become involved but declined to comment to IPE.

The Dutch director of the Brussels-based equity bank, Alexander de Groot, has reportedly been taken off active service. De Groot is also partner at Petercam, one of the largest equity firms in Belgium.

NIBC Petercam Derivatives started in 2001. The joint venture has a client base across Europe and the Middle East. It employs 26 people and has a branch in Madrid.