First-round offers were due by Tuesday, one source said, although none were in a position to comment on a report that the auction for the asset management arm of Franco-Belgian bank Dexia SA could fetch as much as €750 million ($992 million).
The auction, which reportedly also attracted bids from Australia's Macquarie Bank Ltd. and CVC Capital Partners Group, would be the latest step in the breakup of the bank, announced last year. The governments of Belgium, France and Luxembourg were forced to rescue Dexia after it became the first euro-zone lender to nearly collapse because of its exposure to Greek sovereign debt.
In October, the Brussels-based bank began work on the sales of Istanbul-based Denizbank AS, Dexia Asset Management and Dexia's 50% stake in RBC Dexia Investor Services, a joint venture with Royal Bank of Canada. Some parts of that sale have been progressing relatively quickly, but others have been more difficult.
By the end of last year, the bank agreed to sell its Luxembourg operations to Qatar-backed Precision Capital in a deal valuing the target at €730 million. The seller agreed to transfer 90% of Dexia Banque Internationale à Luxembourg SA to Precision Capital, with the remaining 10% going to the Luxembourg government. However, that transaction has since become the target of an in-depth investigation by the European Union, which may rule that the deal counts as illegal state aid.
Royal Bank of Canada on April 3 agreed to acquire the 50% stake in RBC Dexia that it does not already own from its joint venture partner Banque Internationale à Luxembourg SA for €837.5 million.
And in the meantime, Qatar National Bank has reportedly increased its offer for Turkish Dexia subsidiary DenizBank to close to $8.85 billion, after an earlier offer was rebuffed.
The sale of the asset management arm, which has centers in Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris and Sydney, may yet come off more smoothly. However, it is not yet clear which of the bidders will go through to the second round or when the deadline for offers will be.
Dexia Asset Management generated €54 million in pretax income in 2011, finishing the year with €78 billion of assets under management.
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