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Generali reorganizes CEE operations


VIENNA, Austria— - Italy's Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. is reorganizing its central and eastern European operations through a joint venture with PPF Group N.V., which owns Ceska Pojistovna A.S., the largest life and non-life insurance group in the Czech Republic.

The Prague-based joint venture, announced Thursday, will unite all of Generali's and PPF Group's insurance assets in the CEE region. Previously, Generali's CEE holdings were managed by Generali Holding Vienna.

Fitch Ratings Ltd. in London said Friday that Generali's "relatively disparate eastern European operations would be enhanced by the inclusion of Ceska Pojistovna." Fitch affirmed Generali's insurer financial strength rating at 'AA'.

Under the deal, Trieste-based Generali will pay PPF Group €1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) in cash for a 51% share of the JV.

PPF is a finance group incorporated in the Netherland with headquarters in Prague.

In a joint press release, Generali and PPF said the joint venture will form the largest CEE insurance group based on gross premiums written.

Based on pro-forma 2006 data, the JV's annual gross written premiums will be greater than €2.6 billion ($3.5 billion), with an embedded value of €2.3 billion ($3.1 billion) and more than 9 million customers in 12 countries.

The combined group will have operations in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia , Croatia and Kazakhstan.