REAL ESTATE – As expected, Rabobank has agreed to buy ABN Amro’s real estate development and asset management unit Bouwfonds for €845m.

ABN Amro announced the sale in December last year and IPE Real Estate reported that initial interest from domestic players was muted, with only Rabobank confirming that it would likely pitch.

ABN Amro is getting rid of the business as it no longer fits in with its mid-market strategy.

“Rabobank will leverage this acquisition to further crystallise its strategy aimed at achieving a stronger position in the field of real estate in the Netherlands,” Rabobank said – adding that the group would trade as Rabo Bouwfonds.

“The acquisition optimally supplements, deepens and broadens our existing real estate activities, which currently consist of property developer Rabo Real Estate and financier FGH Bank,” said Hans ten Cate, the Rabobank executive board who oversees real estate.

“The finely-meshed network of local Rabobanks enables us to respond quickly to the demand for new real estate that is developed according to the wishes of future users.

“Together with our new colleagues from Bouwfonds, Rabobank provides expertise that spans all the facets of real estate including development, financing and asset management.”

One of the bank’s aims is to “be able to offer financial returns to real estate investors” – and in a socially responsible manner.

“Rabo Bouwfonds will especially be able to achieve growth through involvement in the new projects in real estate, such as the (re-)development of city centres and towns, student housing, residential care complexes, shopping centres, (public) housing and office and business premises,” the bank said in a statement.

Bouwfonds and Rabo Real Estate develop a combined total of approximately 9,500 homes a year.

“This acquisition will also allow Rabobank to enter the European real estate market,” it added.

Rabo Bouwfonds Asset Management will manage and initiate funds for private and institutional investors and asset managers.

As part of the same deal, SNS Reaal has signed a letter of intent with ABN Amro to buy its Bouwfonds Property Finance arm for €840m.

ABN Amro said it expects to book a net gain on the sales of at least €350m.