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UPDATE 1-Dutch bank NIBC is preparing for IPO - report

(Adds NIBC comment, background)

AMSTERDAM, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Dutch bank NIBC is considering an initial public offering (IPO) of shares in the first months of 2018, Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported on Thursday.

Owner JC Flowers is currently selecting banks to help with the process, with preparations still at early stages, the paper said, citing sources close to the company.

NIBC spokesman Martin Groot Wesseldijk said the bank would not comment on "market rumours".

NIBC is mainly active in mortgages and loans to small and medium-sized companies in the Netherlands, Germany and Britain.

Analysts estimate the value of the bank between 1 billion and 1.5 billion euros ($1.2-$1.8 billion), according to the paper. JC Flowers paid 1.8 billion euros when it bought the bank from Dutch pension funds in 2005.

The American investment firm prepared NIBC for an IPO 10 years ago, but had to change course when the financial crisis crippled the bank, which had made large bets on U.S. subprime mortgage loans.

NIBC was the first in a number of Dutch banks, including ING and ABN Amro, to need state support to survive the financial crisis. The bank paid off the last of its debt to the government in 2014 and has undertaken a major overhaul since the crisis, adding retail services such as mortgage loans and savings accounts to its offerings.

Reports of a possible IPO have surfaced repeatedly over the years, with former Chief Executive Jeroen Drost ruling out such a step in a 2013 interview, because he thought the bank was too small for the stock market.

NIBC reported a 2016 net profit of 104 million euros, up 46 percent from a year earlier. Operating income rose 21 percent to 381 million euros.

($1 = 0.8443 euros) (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Mark Potter)