GERMANY – HVB’s chief executive Dieter Rampl has re-iterated that the group is to focus on distribution – fuelling talk that its asset management arm may be sold.

Speaking at a banking conference this week in Frankfurt, Rampl is reported by the German press as saying: “We want to strengthen our distribution. Everything else is being put on the block.” He added: “Not every product that banks distribute, do they have to have produced themselves.”

With the focus now on distribution, there is now press speculating that the sale of the group’s asset manager, Activest, is inevitable. Rumours that HVB is considering selling Activest, which has just under 50 billion euros in assets under management, have circulated for some time. A spokesman for HVB Group, however, said that Activest had not been mentioned by Rampl.

He added that Rampl had been saying that distribution was going to be strengthened for many months, and that business areas would be put on the block in order to fulfil the Tier 1 ratio.

Rampl hopes to increase the ratio to seven percent from 6.2% by the end of 2003. At the conference he said that the bank expects to cut costs by 10% this year. HVB Group will have cut 11,100 jobs since 2001 by the end of 2003.

HVB Group has already sold its stakes in consumer credit bank Norisbank and Bank Austria. On October 6, HVB Real Estate is also being spun off.