Fortis to Sell Part of Assurant Stake

Fortis, the Belgian-Dutch insurer and financial services group, announced that it plans to sell 27.2 million shares of Assurant Inc. The sale would reduce Fortis’ stake in the U.S. health-care provider from around 36 percent currently to around 16 percent.

Fortis said that Assurant has filed a registration statement with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to permit the sale of Assurant shares by Fortis. It also indicated that the decision confirms its intention, to reduce its stake. Fortis had previously revealed its plan when Assurant shares were initially offered to the public in February of 2004. At that time it sold an initial 80 million shares at $22 dollars a share.

Based on Assurant’s closing price on Monday of $30.70 per share, Fortis’ gross proceeds would be around $835 million dollars.

Fortis has also indicated that, subject to market conditions, it expects to issue a convertible bond covering its remaining approximately 23 million shares in Assurant. Holders would either convert the bonds to equity or receive cash at maturity. When this transaction is completed, Fortis would no longer have any stake in Assurant.