Rabobank said to hold talks for US$4.9 billion leasing unit sale

The Rabobank headquartersin Utrecht.
The Rabobank headquartersin Utrecht. PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM (BLOOMBERG) - Rabobank Group is in preliminary talks with banks, institutional investors and private-equity firms that may bid for its leasing unit, De Lage Landen International BV, in a sale that may fetch as much as 4.5 billion euros (S$7 billion), according to a person with knowledge of the process.

The transaction could be concluded in the second half of 2016, sources said. The Dutch lender is also considering selling parts of the leasing unit.

Rabobank is seeking to cut as much as 150 billion euros of assets by 2020 in preparation for tougher European capital rules. The closely held Utrecht, Netherlands-based lender, which had a balance sheet of 675 billion euros at the end of June, is under pressure to cut costs as customers switch to mobile and Internet banking services.

De Lage Landen, which finances cars, medical equipment and agricultural equipment, reported net profit of 454 million euros in 2014, according to its annual report. The subsidiary makes up almost a quarter of the profit at Rabobank.

Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported the possible sale earlier. Hendrik Jan Eijpe, a spokesman for Rabobank, declined to comment.