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Allianz, Generali, Liberty lining up bids for BBVA insurance arm: Sources


(Reuters) — European insurers Allianz SE and Assicurazioni Generali SpA are vying with U.S. rival Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. to invest in the bancassurance business of Spanish lender Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, better known as BBVA, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The sale, led by Bank of America, kicked off toward the end of last year and will be structured as a joint venture agreement within a network of insurers across Spain, Mexico and Latin America, the sources said.

The entire network is valued at about €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) and provides products from life to health, home and car insurance.

BBVA’s insurance unit in Spain reported a 4.8% profit rise to €311 million in 2018.

The bidders will be able to acquire at least 50% in each of BBVA’s insurers across the world, with the biggest businesses based in Spain and Mexico, the sources said.

However, BBVA’s life insurance network in Spain remains a core part of the Spanish lender and will not be included in the sale, two of the sources added.

BBVA, Allianz, Generali and Liberty Mutual declined to comment.

BBVA, Spain’s second-largest bank after Santander, is in no rush to finalize a deal, the sources said, and wants to ensure the final buyer has a solid plan to develop its client network across Spain and South America.

Financial investors have not been invited to the process, as they would have lacked industry focus and existing operations, they said.

“This is a slow-moving process as bidders need time to finalize their business plans, and BBVA wants to be actively involved in drafting the industrial strategy,” one source said.

Allianz, Generali and Liberty Mutual are in the process of submitting nonbinding proposals, one of the sources said, and final bidders will be short-listed toward the end of March.

Allianz’s finance chief said earlier this month the company had earmarked about €1 billion for smaller acquisitions this year.

The German insurer is seen as a possible front-runner for the deal, the sources said, as it intends to revive its Spanish distribution network after an agreement with Banco Popular ended in 2017 after Popular’s emergency sale to Santander.

Italy’s Generali is also on the acquisition trail and is actively scouting targets in Europe and Asia after cleaning up its portfolio and raising about €1.5 billion from a series of divestments, several sources familiar with its strategy said.

Madrid-based insurer Mapfre SA, which initially looked at the BBVA unit, has now switched its focus on buying Spanish rival Caser Seguros and no other Spanish buyer has voiced interest in the business, the sources said.






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