UniCredit Said to Explore Private Equity Fund Sale

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- UniCredit SpA is exploring selling private-equity fund stakes held by its German unit HypoVereinsbank to bolster its balance sheet.

UniCredit, based in Milan, is considering a 1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) deal that would involve a buyer of the stakes also committing capital for future investments, known as a stapled secondary deal, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

HypoVereinsbank, the Munich-based unit, completed a similar deal last year where the bank’s private-equity arm spun out to form SwanCap Partners GmbH. Secondary buyer AlpInvest Partners BV, owned by the Carlyle Group LP, helped structure a deal that involved purchasing fund stakes from HVB and providing about $450 million in capital for new investments. SwanCap manages more than $3 billion in assets. The team, which is led by Florian Kreitmeier, historically relied on UniCredit for capital.

Nicole Selle, a spokeswoman for UniCredit, declined to comment.

Financial institutions have been selling private-equity stakes as they exit businesses that aren’t central to their strategy, in order to strengthen balance sheets and meet regulatory requirements. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Barclays Plc and Credit Agricole SA are among banks that have tapped the secondary market in recent years.

HVB used the secondary market in 2011 when it marketed a portfolio of about 300 million euros, according to a person familiar in January 2013. HVB was acquired by UniCredit in 2005 and now operates as UniCredit Bank AG.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sabrina Willmer in New York at swillmer2@bloomberg.net; Kiel Porter in London at kporter17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net Pierre Paulden