US asset management giant Blackstone is reportedly sounding out market interest in the sale of Dutch merchant bank NIBC, two years after taking control of the lender.
The buyout firm has made informal approaches to other banks and potential buyers to assess their appetite, according to reports by Bloomberg and Reuters.
NIBC is the eighth largest commercial real estate lender in the Netherlands, according to research by PropertyEU’s sister title PropertyNL. Last year, the bank issued €650 mln of CRE loans, down €50 mln on 2022 levels. It has €1.6 bn of property loans on its books in total.
Besides real estate, The Hague-based NIBC provides financing for industries such as automotive, infrastructure and shipping, as well as retail mortgages.
Blackstone gained control of NIBC for around €1 bn in early 2021 after a lengthy bidding process during which it negotiated down the price originally agreed with the bank, reportedly over concerns about the Covid pandemic.
At the time of the takeover, NIBC had been listed on the stock market for four years, prior to which it was held privately by JC Flowers & Co for more than a decade.
Blackstone’s exploratory talks on a sale are said to be preliminary and may not lead to any transaction, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Although valuations for listed European banks have risen in recent years, buoyed by higher interest rates, the recent banking sector turmoil following the Credit Suisse rescue by UBS has dampened confidence in credit institutions.