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TRYGG HANSA OWNER DENIES IT WILL SELL NON-LIFE UNITS

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden-The future of Trygg Hansa Insurance Co.'s non-life operations remains in doubt in the wake of a Swedish bank's takeover of the insurer.

Jacob Wallenberg, chief executive of the commercial bank, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, in a news conference denied that the bank plans to sell the insurer's non-life operations. The deal was announced earlier this month,

Also, Per-Erik Coos, head of the insurer's domestic division, has been quoted in news reports denying plans to sell the operations.

The denials have not convinced stock market analysts, however.

"The main reason for the takeover is Trygg Hansa's life insurance and asset management operations, which are the growth areas," said Matthew Reece, an analyst with London-based Banking Analysis Ltd.

In the first six month of this year, Trygg Hansa's life and savings premiums increased about 15%, while non-life premiums fell slightly compared with the same period last year.

Non-life business made up almost half of Trygg Hansa's 1996 gross premium volume of 12.16 billion Swedish kronor ($1.78 billion). The company had 1996 net income of 2.37 billion kronor ($346 million).

Oslo, Norway-based insurer Storebrand A/S has been cited as a possible buyer for Trygg Hansa's non-life operations. The company, looking for merger partners, has held discussions with Trygg Hansa and other Scandinavian financial institutions (BI, Sept. 15).

A Storebrand spokesman in Oslo said the company had been overwhelmed with questions on whether it would buy Trygg Hansa's non-life assets and said, "We are not negotiating with anyone at the moment."

Asked whether the company wants to buy any Trygg Hansa assets, he said he could not comment.

In a statement, Trygg Hansa said the rationale behind the transaction is that Trygg Hansa has ambitions to grow in the pension savings market. The new group will become the leader in the Nordic market for asset management and a front-runner in exploiting the possibilities for selling insurance products through the branch office network of a bank.

Synergies are expected to come from the cross-selling of life insurance and non-life personal lines to S-E-Banken customers, the statement added.

The statement did not mention Trygg Hansa's industrial insurance operations. The company has a division called Industry, which provides primary insurance and risk management services to more than 200 Swedish corporations.

Last year Trygg Hansa sold its stake in Hansa Industrial Insurance, a reinsurance subsidiary, as part of a decision to get out of the reinsurance market, a spokeswoman said.

S-E-Banken is the only Swedish bank with a sizable corporate banking and investment banking division, which services Swedish and Nordic clients overseas, said Mr. Reece. But its operations are predominantly in Sweden, a country that "is not over-banked," he said. The bank could be expected to come under great pressure from other European rivals once European Monetary Union is in place after 1999. While most European banks and insurers are strong only in their domestic markets, a single currency is expected to spur more competition as the companies pursue more European market share.

S-E-Banken is offering 244 kronor ($32.40) in cash or 13 new S-E-Banken series A shares for every five Trygg Hansa shares. The cash bid amounts to a premium of 30% over Trygg Hansa's share prices in the 10 days before the bid, while the paper offer comes at a premium of 27%.

The structure of the company has not been detailed precisely. Trygg Hansa said the new company would have a decentralized structure with each division separate.

Mr. Wallenberg will be the chairman of the joint company, while Trygg Hansa's chief executive Lars Thunell will be the new company's president and chief executive.