By Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro and Toby Sterling
LONDON/AMSTERDAM(Reuters) - Dutch insurer ASR will consider a sale of its banking arm after completing its acquisition of rival Aegon's domestic operations, a source close to the matter told Reuters.
ASR anounced in October that it would buy the bulk of Aegon's business in the Netherlands, including its local insurance activities and credit subsidiary Aegon Bank, with the deal expected to close in the second half of this year.
The lending business, however, is likely to be put up for sale, given ASR's previous stance on banking operations, the source said on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.
ASR labelled its original banking arm, ASR Bank, as "non-core" in 2018 and sold part of it to rival Achmea the following year. It finished winding down the business in 2020.
No final decision has been taken, the source added.
"At the moment nothing will change for customers and employees of the bank. First and foremost, Knab/Aegon Bank is a great company with a strong position in the Dutch market," an ASR spokesperson said.
"After we have completed the transaction, July 2023 at the earliest, we will think about the future of the bank."
Aegon referred comment to ASR.
The bank, known for its online brand Knab, is one of a handful of smaller lenders vying against Dutch giants ING, ABN Amro and Rabobank, which control much of the market.
These include the banking subsidiaries of wider insurance conglomerates such as NN Group and insurance cooperative Achmea.
Aegon Bank had 16.2 billion euros ($17.6 billion) in assets on its balance sheet at the end of 2021, with 735.2 million euros of equity. It generated 81.6 million euros in net income and return on equity of 4.2%.
ASR paid 2.5 billion euros in cash for Aegon's Dutch operations, with Aegon to retain a 30% stake in the enlarged group.
($1 = 0.9199 euros)
(Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro and Toby Sterling; Editing by John O'Donnell and David Goodman)