ABN builds financial services PE unit

ABN AMRO, the Netherlands-headquartered bank has launched a specialist subsidiary that will invest several hundred million euros in financial services opportunities in Europe and Asia.

Netherlands-based international bank ABN Amro has announced the launch of FI Equity Partners BV, a new subsidiary created to make what it describes as “non-strategic” private equity investments in select financial services companies.


Heading the business, to be based in Amsterdam and Hong Kong, will be Arnold van Os, who has over 15 years of experience as an advisor and a principal in the sector and whose previous responsibilities for the ABN AMRO group include those as head of corporate development (group strategy and M&A) as well as head of financial institutions corporate finance for Europe.


“We think there is an opportunity in the market. The financial services industry requires a special skill set which we are able to provide in the sector,” according to ABN Amro spokesperson Steven Blaney.


Blaney said the subsidiary would be a good fit with the bank’s other private equity units, whose mandates do not include financial services investments. ABN Amro has not disclosed the amount of capital available to FI, but a source close to the bank put the total at several hundred million Euros.


FI Equity Partners will seek out target investments primarily in Europe and Asia, and expects to take significant stakes in companies with an investment horizon of between three and five years.


Samuel Zavatti, global head of Financial Institutions and Public Sector (FIPS) for ABN AMRO, said in a statement the new business will look for investment opportunities that can create significant value for the bank’s shareholders, and build a portfolio of carefully selected financial institutions holdings.


“All investments will need to meet strict value creation and liquidity criteria. The main sources of investment will be restructuring situations, buyouts and the capital needs of medium-sized companies,” Zavatti said in the statement.


The present team, which is expected to grow to eight by the end of 2003, also includes Chu Kim (Head of Asia), previously of ABN AMRO Capital, the group’s private equity arm; Paul van Neerven, an actuary and insurance specialist, previously of ABN AMRO financial institutions corporate finance in London; and Floris Roskam, previously of ABN AMRO’s M&A Advisory group in Amsterdam.


“We believe that the FI sector will provide significant opportunities in the coming years,” van Os added in a statement. “We have created a team that leverages the strength of our close senior level relationships with the FIPS client base and combines this with extensive sector and product knowledge, as well as transaction experience.”


ABN Amro makes private equity and venture capital investments worldwide, investing amounts ranging from E20m to E500m. During 2002, ABN AMRO Capital invested E500m. Last year, the bank closed ABN Amro Mezzanine, its mezzanine unit, to focus on developing its buyout unit. Last month, the bank added five professionals to its European leveraged finance team, citing a surge in demand in the buyout market.