With a number of Robeco's money management affiliates enjoying healthy growth in a difficult market environment, some bankers predict Rabobank could break that losing streak.
On Aug. 14, Robeco reported net inflows of $21.6 billion for the first half of 2012, helped by a fiduciary management mandate of $15 billion from Pensioenfonds Vervoer, the Groningen-based Dutch transport pension fund. Those first-half inflows were more than double Robeco's record full-year inflows of $9.9 billion in 2011.
The company's U.S. institutional arm, New York-based Robeco Investment Management Inc., contributed to those gains, with the parent company's 2011 annual report noting the unit garnered record inflows of $2.1 billion for the year. For the first six months of 2012, it saw another $2 billion of net inflows.
With that kind of momentum, and offerings in market segments such as fiduciary management, low-volatility equities and sustainable investing, investment bankers say a number of strategic buyers and private equity firms could end up bidding for Robeco.
Affiliated Managers Group, Boston, is expected to be a leading bidder among strategic buyers, sources said. AMG has typically acquired more focused money management firms, but Robeco's strong presence in Europe and its Harbor mutual fund family (with a structure similar to the AMG Managers fund platform subadvised by the firm's affiliates) could make it an attractive target, said one investment banker who declined to be named.
AMG spokeswoman Laura O'Brien declined to comment.
Bankers say Sydney-based Macquarie Group, which purchased Delaware Investments three years ago, is likewise expected to bid for Robeco. Paula Chirhart, a spokeswoman for Macquarie, declined to comment.
According to sources, expected private equity bidders include CVC Capital Partners and Permira Advisers LLP, both in London; TA Associates and Advent International, both in Boston; and Tokyo-based Orix Corp. Representatives for all five companies declined to comment.