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Generali confirms targets after 9-month profit falls on Dutch sale

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(Reuters) — Italy's biggest insurer, Assucurazioni Generali S.p.A., kept its guidance unchanged on Thursday after posting a 9.9% drop in nine-month profit due to a loss on the sale of its Dutch business.

Profits for the period totaled €1.46 billion ($1.7 billion), roughly in line with what Generali said was a consensus market forecast of €1.43 billion. The result included a €253 million net loss on the sale of the Dutch unit this year.

Generali, which has more than €500 billion in invested assets, is looking to shrink its global footprint by selling businesses in some 13 countries to raise €1 billion.

The insurer wants to use the proceeds to help fund an expansion of asset management operations and beef up fee-based business, especially in core markets Italy, France and Germany.

"The results confirm our excellent trend ... we can confirm our target of paying out €5 billion of dividends (from 2017) to 2019," Chief Financial Officer Luigi Lubelli told reporters a conference call.

Operating profits in the first nine months were flat on the year at €3.6 billion, after a €70 million rise in natural catastrophe claims.

Europe's third-largest insurer said it would take around €80 million in restructuring costs this year at its German business, which it is overhauling ahead of a possible sale of its life insurance portfolio there.

Generali, controlled by influential investment bank Mediobanca, has a life insurance portfolio of €40 billion in Germany, its second-biggest market.

Mr. Lubelli confirmed the group was looking at a series of options for the portfolio.

Generali shares were little changed at €15.60 each after the result, in line with the benchmark European insurance index, which was also flat.