(Rewrites first paragraph, adds Saxo quotes)
By Shrikesh Laxmidas and Sarah White
LISBON/LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Private equity group TPG Capital LP bought 30 percent of Danish online brokerage Saxo Bank from owners including Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo (BES), a deal which Saxo said could pave the way for an eventual IPO.
TPG, which has long had a greater focus on financial services than some of its rivals, bought out the bulk of the Saxo Bank stakes held by BES, holding company Espirito Santo Financial Group and U.S. investment group General Atlantic.
The deal also gives TPG an option to increase its stake to 40 percent in Saxo, which is valued at some 9.6 billion Danish crowns ($1.9 billon) in the TPG purchase, according to one of its founders, though terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Saxo’s founders Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen would retain majority ownership, the bank said.
The TPG deal could pave the way for a listing of Saxo Bank as it included a condition that the private equity firm can opt for an initial public offering as an exit route.
“We have made an agreement that either TPG or we can initiate a stock listing,” Fournais told Reuters. “But we are talking (about) a horizon of five to six years.”
Fournais said the deal implied a value of 9.6 billion crowns for Saxo, which would make it one of Denmark’s most valuable financial companies. “With this transaction (we are) Denmark’s second-biggest bank in terms of market capitalisation,” Fournais said.
Danske Bank , by far Denmark’s biggest bank, has a market capitalisation of 70.6 billion crowns.
The sale is important for BES, Portugal’s second-largest listed bank, allowing it to reduce debt to help it reach capital ratio targets set in the wake of Portugal’s 78 billion euro ($112 billion) bailout by the international community.
BES and Espirito Santo Financial Group sold a combined 7.4 percent stake in Saxo, the two said on Thursday. They still jointly own 2.6 percent but could also sell the remaining stake.
Saxo Bank, which has specialised until now in a range of online trading platforms for instruments such as bonds and futures and options, is planning to expand its wealth management business.
TPG has an option to increase its stake in Saxo to 40 percent. Smaller shareholders with a total of about 8 percent, have two to three weeks to consider the offer. The Portuguese bank shareholders and General Atlantic also have the option to sell their small remaining stake.
Portugal’s leading banks passed the EU financial stress tests last month but the Bank of Portugal has urged them to sell assets and loan portfolios to better resist shocks and cut their dependence on European Central Bank funding.
BES in April sold a voting stake of 4.1 percent in Brazilian bank Bradesco for around 850 million euros. It also sold loan portfolios worth around 1.4 billion euros in the first half of 2011 and plans to sell other portfolios worth about 1.1 billion by the end of the year.
BES shares were up 2.8 percent by 1500 GMT, outperforming the broader market in Lisbon. ($1 = 5.170 Danish Crowns) ($1 = 0.694 Euros) (Additional reporting by Ole Mikkelsen; Editing by Andrew Callus and David Holmes)