Athene Holding Ltd. and Viridium Group GmbH submitted binding bids for Assicurazioni Generali SpA’s 40 billion-euro ($49 billion) German life insurance portfolio, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Generali is working with Morgan Stanley to evaluate bids, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is confidential. The Generali Leben portfolio could be worth about $1 billion, one of the people said. No final decisions have been made on the sale and other bidders could emerge, the people said.
Representatives for Generali, Athene and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Cinven Ltd., which controls German insurer Viridium, also declined to comment.
Generali Chief Executive Officer Philippe Donnet has been selling less-profitable businesses and focusing on assets such as infrastructure and private equity funds as low interest rates hurt investment returns. The firm expects to meet its turnaround targets this year, Donnet said in a Bloomberg interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
“Generali has been rationalizing its business since the onset of the Credit Apocalypse about a decade ago,” David Havens, an analyst with Imperial Capital, said Thursday in a note. “Exiting the relatively low-margin German life business is consistent with this strategy.”
The Italian insurer has been seeking to divest its Portuguese unit, according to local reports, and last year agreed to sell its Dutch business to ASR Nederland NV. It is Germany’s sixth largest life insurer with gross premiums of more than 3.6 billion euros in 2016, according to German industry journal Map-report.
Generali’s head of German operations, Giovanni Liverani, told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung in January that his company was assessing whether to sell or wind-down its German life insurance portfolio.
Athene is backed by New York-based Apollo Global Management LLC, and counts on the private equity firm to oversee much of its portfolio. The Bermuda insurer has been pursuing deals to add assets under management since its initial public offering in December 2016, including expanding into the pension-transfer business.
“There’s no assurance that Athene will prevail in its bid here — but the reported information very much reads that Generali will exit the German life business,” Havens said in the note. A sale “should help bolster Generali’s financial flexibility and probably its capitalization.”
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