RSA Insurance Group plc is considering the sale of its Middle Eastern business as the U.K. insurer seeks to raise capital, people with knowledge of the matter said.
RSA, whose operations span Europe, Asia, Latin America and Canada, is working with UBS Group AG on the potential sale of the unit, which may fetch less than $300 million, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. A sale may kick off as soon as next month, one of the people said.
The business may attract interest from global rivals including France’s AXA SA, Zurich Insurance Group AG of Switzerland and local Middle Eastern firms including Qatar Insurance Co., they said. No final decision has been made and the insurer may choose not to sell the company, they said.
RSA continues to review options for its Middle East business, the insurer said in an e-mailed statement, adding that no decision is imminent and the company is not in discussions with any interested parties.
In the Middle East, RSA operates in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman. The unit generated about 150 million pounds ($228 million) in net written premiums in 2013, according to the insurer’s annual report.
RSA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hester, who joined in February last year after an accounting scandal, has been cutting costs and selling assets to bolster the company’s balance sheet. The former banker has sold businesses throughout Asia, the Baltics, Poland, Italy and Canada, reversing a decade of expansion.
The company is currently reviewing its Middle Eastern business, which may lead to a potential sale of the unit, RSA said in a prospectus issued by its Saudi Arabian unit this month.
Representatives for AXA and Zurich declined to comment. Representatives for Qatar Insurance didn’t respond to requests for comment.
–With assistance from Sarah Jones in London and Joe Brennan in Dublin.
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