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Aviva sets February deadlines for $6.6B disposals in France, Poland


(Reuters) — U.K.-based insurer Aviva PLC has set deadlines in late February to receive final offers for its operations in France and Poland - a deal that would help the British insurer streamline its operations and raise an overall €5.5 billion ($6.67 billion), sources told Reuters.

Aviva has already secured indicative bids from a series of industry heavyweights and wants to wrap up the sale of both units by the end of the first quarter, three sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is confidential.

The London-based insurer, led by boss Amanda Blanc, is expected to sell its French business for about €3.5 billion while the Polish operations are valued at roughly €2 billion, the sources said.

The sale is a central part of Ms. Blanc's turnaround plan aimed at shifting the insurer's focus to its core operations in Britain, Canada and Ireland after a prolonged period of share price weakness that has irked investors.

Aviva declined to comment on the sale but confirmed it was exploring strategic options across its portfolio, including in France and Poland.

Dutch insurer NN Group, Italy's Assicurazioni Generali SpA and Germany's Allianz SE are among a group of bidders vying for Aviva's Polish business and facing a deadline of Feb. 26 to submit final offers, the sources said.

French mutual insurer Groupe Macif is dominating the French auction, with a €3.5 billion indicative bid and is working on a final proposal ahead of a Feb. 22 deadline, two of the sources said.

The bidding field for Aviva France also includes investment firm Eurazeo SE and life insurance specialist Athora IP Co. Ltd., which is backed by private equity house Apollo and is no longer teaming up with Allianz, the sources said.

Eurazeo, NN Group, Allianz and Generali declined to comment while Macif and Athora were not immediately available.

French hurdles

Aviva faced opposition in France last year when it tried to strike a deal with a consortium of Allianz and Athora.

Their joint offer prompted concern over job security and strategy as French regulators, unions and Aviva's local partner Association Française d'Épargne et de Retraite (Afer) sought to halt the sale.

Since then Allianz, which was mainly interested in Aviva's general insurance assets in France, has walked away from the auction while other international bidders such as Italy's Generali have been waiting on the sidelines, the sources said.

Generali remains interested in parts of Aviva France's business, two of the sources said, and later could try to pursue an alliance with Eurazeo should the French investment firm led by boss Virginie Morgon emerge as a winner, the sources said.







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