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Written by: Staff

SYDNEY, April 6 (Reuters) South African investment bank Investec said on Thursday it has agreed to acquire the non-investment bank arm of Rothschild's Australian business for an undisclosed sum to help it expand in Australia.

Investec is buying the lending and project finance arms of N.M.

Rothschild&Sons (Australia) Ltd., which has a strong presence in property and resources. The units have 140 employees and offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Investec, which is listed in London and South Africa, said the acquisition was subject to regulatory approval and final due diligence. Rothschild Australia has assets of about A$2.1 billion ($1.5 billion).

''This proposed acquisition will substantially increase our revenue and loan portfolio as well as complement and strengthen established core competencies in Sydney and Melbourne,'' Investec Australia Chief Executive Brian Schwartz said in a statement.

A Rothschild Australia spokesman said the company had decided to concentrate on its investment banking arm, which has about 25 employees, given the relatively small scale of the lending and project finance units in the Australian market.

''It's investment banking where Rothschild sees the growth coming from in Australia,'' the spokesman said.

Investec's main activities are private banking, investment banking, asset management, specialised finance and real estate.

The bank said late last month it was on track to deliver a ''very strong'' full-year performance after a strong second-half from all its divisions.

Investec last month sold its U.S. brokerage operations to Bank Hapoalim , Israel's largest bank. Last May it sold its British private client stockbroking business, Carr Sheppards Crosthwaite, to rival Rensberg .

Last November, it reported a 58 percent increase in first-half profit to 152.8 million pounds ($268 million).

($1=A$1.38) ($1=0.57 pounds) REUTERS SS VC1429

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