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Axis Capital not engaged in buyout talks with Arch, sources say

Axis Capital not engaged in buyout talks with Arch, sources say

(Reuters) — Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. has not communicated with any potential acquirer, including Arch Capital Ltd., since it engaged in merger talks with competitor PartnerRe Ltd. last fall, people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The Financial Times wrote on Wednesday, citing sources, that Arch, a Bermuda-based specialty insurer and reinsurer, was considering paying as much as $65 per share for Axis.

Representatives for Axis and Arch declined to comment.

Axis, also a Bermuda-based reinsurer, has been pursuing a merger of equals with PartnerRe. Exor S.p.A., the investment vehicle of Italy's Agnelli family, has attempted to derail the merger of the two companies by offering $6.8 billion for PartnerRe.

While Arch previously showed interest in pursuing a combination with Axis, it is not actively pursuing a bid, two other people said.

Axis' stock offer for PartnerRe is currently worth $134.56 per share, including a special cash dividend of $11.50 per share. That is below Exor's all-cash offer, which is for $137.50 per share.

PartnerRe shares closed at $131.38 on Thursday. Shares of Axis closed at $56.45.

Sources close to Axis previously said that an all-share deal makes more sense if one believes this is a bad time in the industry's cycle to cash out.

Reinsurers, which help insurers pay large damage claims in exchange for part of the profit, are currently being squeezed by price competition and weak demand from insurers.

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