| LONDON, March 22
LONDON, March 22 Generali has asked
advisory bank Rothschild to find a new owner for its
subsidiaries in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama, sources told
Reuters, as Italy's biggest insurer seeks to leave markets where
it lacks scale.
Generali's French boss Philippe Donnet aims to raise about 1
billion euros ($1.1 billion) by exiting 13 to 15 countries
across the world in a bid to cut costs and improve returns.
Representatives of Generali declined to comment while
Rothschild was not immediately available for comment.
Generali's exit roadmap also includes a handful of European
countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal where it
has a marginal presence, the sources said.
It is using different banks in each market, the sources
said, adding Deutsche Bank has recently been tasked with
reviewing options in Belgium.
They said a sale process could start after Generali wraps up
the sale of its Dutch business, which generated 5.4 million
euros in net profit in 2015. This process is led by French
lender BNP Paribas and may attract interest from private equity
investors among others.
Meanwhile Generali, which has more than 500 billion euros in
invested assets, will continue investing in core Latin American
markets such as Brazil and Argentina, the sources said, while
operations in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama are deemed too small
to justify its presence.
Rothschild is in the process of sounding out potential
bidders for the three Latam countries, the sources said, adding
information packages have been sent out to interested parties.
Local players are expected to submit offers for the three
units which are being sold in separate auctions, one of the
Local firm Seguros de Vida Suramericana ranked as Colombia's
largest insurer in 2015, according to data from insurance
ratings agency A.M. Best, while Panama's Compania Internacional
de Seguros and Ecuador's Seguros Sucre dominated 2015 league
tables in Panama and Ecuador, respectively.
Generali recently came under pressure as it tried to fend
off a takeover attempt by Italy's biggest retail bank, Intesa
Sanpaolo, which was hoping to create a financial giant
with a market value of around 60 billion euros.
On Feb. 24 Intesa decided against launching a takeover bid
for Generali, arguing the deal would not create enough value for
The Italian insurer, whose biggest shareholder is investment
bank Mediobanca, recently played down the prospects of
a takeover as it reported its highest ever full-year operating
profit and said it would raise dividends to boost value for
($1 = 0.9252 euros)
(Reporting By Pamela Barbaglia; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)