CGNU close to winning Gartmore

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The Independent Online

CGNU, the insurance giant has moved closer to winning the auction for Gartmore, the asset management group after Robeco, the Dutch group became the latest bidder to drop out.

The business, which manages £60bn of assets, was put up for sale by National Westminster Bank following Bank of Scotland's hostile bid last September. It is expected to be sold for at least £900m.

Royal Bank of Scotland, which assumed control of the sales process when it took over NatWest last month, had been hoping to complete the sale before the end of next week.

CGNU has long been seen as favourite for Gartmore, having helped RBS finance its NatWest bid. CGNU has also agreed to buy half of NatWest Life, the bank's life insurance business.

Old Mutual, the South African life insurer, pulled out of the bidding three weeks ago, saying that it looked like the business was going to be sold for a price which was higher than it was willing to pay.

ABN-Amro, the Dutch bank and Italy's Unicredito, had also been seen as strong contenders. It is not known whether they are still keen to pursue their interest.

Peter Kortweg, Robeco's chief executive said earlier this week that RBS had ended the auction and that he believed that CGNU was now the only bidder left.

However, RBS insisted yesterday that the auction "continues to go through the due process".