NETHERLAND - Rabobank Group is looking into the "strategic options" for its subsidiary and asset manager Robeco as part of a strategic reorientation, it has confirmed.
A spokesman at Rabobank, who declined to provide further details, said one of the options "might be the sale of the company".
The €150bn asset manager has been headed by Roderick Munsters - former CIO of the Dutch civil service pension scheme ABP - during the past two years.
Under his watch, the company has refocused on institutional investors and launched a cost-cutting operation.
Since 2009, it has slimmed down from 2,100 to less than 1,600 staff, sold a bank in France, merged its Swiss activities and ceased operating in Singapore, Denmark and Sweden.
Munsters recently said his aspiration was to make Robeco the market leader in the Netherlands again and to increase asset under management for both Dutch and foreign institutional investors to €250bn by 2014.
However, the asset manager reported an investment result of -7.1%, falling short of its benchmark by 3.8 percentage points.
The financial daily Het Financieel Dagblad reported that Rabobank wanted to sell the asset manager to become "less dependent" on capital markets.
Citing unnamed sources, it added that Rabobank had hired merchant banks Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan to organise the deal, worth at least €1.5bn.
In a written statement, Robeco said Rabobank had informed the asset manager it was exploring "all strategic options" as part of the bank's "strategic reorientation process".
Robeco said it was confident the performance and sustainability of its business would continue - "whatever the outcome of the process" - given its track record and the strength of its offering.
It pointed out that more than 80% of its investment products had outperformed their benchmarks on a three-year basis, and that assets under management had grown to €177bn, compared with €150bn at the end of last year.