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Rabobank plans to sell US unit

Dutch bank Rabobank Groep is exploring a sale of its U.S. retail bank or other American operations. The bank, based in Utrecht, Netherlands, is interviewing potential advisers to run a sale process and determine how much it could fetch for Rabobank, a 120-branch agriculture lender in California. It has not hired an adviser or decided what, if anything, to divest in the U.S., where it wants to maintain a presence. It is considering selling the retail bank and using proceeds to capitalize Rabo AgriFinance, its U.S. specialty finance business. However, a spokesman for the bank said the bank has no plans to sell the U.S. unit. Rabobank would join Royal Bank of Scotland Group in selling U.S. assets. The Edinburgh-based bank is open to takeover offers for its U.S. subsidiary as it prepares the division for an initial public offering this year, the unit’s chief executive officer said last month. Separately, OneWest Bank FSB, the lender backed by John Paulson and George Soros, is working with Goldman Sachs to find a buyer as it also prepares for an IPO, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

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