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RSA LatAm sale nearly wraps restructuring; Zurich purchase possible

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RSA Insurance Group P.L.C. has sold its Latin America operations to Suramericana S.A., the insurance subsidiary of Colombia-based Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana, for £403 million ($611.3 million) in cash, RSA said Tuesday.

RSA, which is the subject of a takeover approach by Zurich Insurance Group Ltd., said its Latin America operations wrote net premiums of £333 million ($505.1 million) for the first half of 2015 with an after-tax profit of £9 million ($13.7 million).

RSA Latin America has a presence in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay.

The deal, which is expected to conclude by the end of 2016, is subject to regulatory approval and the senior management of each country operation is expected to remain with their respective businesses, RSA said in a statement.

“With RSA's focus on its largest markets in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Scandinavia and Canada, it has become increasingly clear to us that RSA is no longer the best strategic owner of these businesses,” RSA CEO Stephen Hester said in the statement. “At £403 million cash purchase price, this sale is expected to be strongly accretive to capital for RSA, enhancing operational flexibility.”

Since 2014, RSA has sold units in the Baltic region, China, India, Italy, Poland, Singapore and Thailand, as part of a restructuring program.

“This is the largest remaining disposal we have underway and is consistent with our stated target to substantially complete RSA's strategic refocus by the 2015 year-end results announcement,” Mr. Hester said.

“This deal has taken a long time to complete, but the ultimate price represents a good exit premium for RSA and delivers a further tidying up exercise for the group either as an independent business or as part of Zurich,” Shore Capital Group Ltd. said in a note to investors of the tentative offer that would have Zurich pay $8.79 billion for RSA.

“We still believe that a deal with Zurich is possible and see little reason to doubt that 550 pence (per RSA share) is the basis of these discussions,” according to the investor note.